I am forever fascinated by the wondrous way that nature transforms in between its seasons. And I often find myself musing at posts from all over the world featuring their winter experiences, picturesque views with landscapes white coated in excessive snow and ice for a great deal of it. And that made want to share my winter tale with you.
African winters are just in a league of their own, we might not have an annual white cloak of snow over our horizons, and once all of the beautiful Spring/Summer flowers had come to the end of their blooming session, you could expect the scenery to be completely dull and dreary, but it is quite to the contrary.
Once we step into our winter, we have a gorgeous array of winter flowers that come into bloom, and they brighten up the days almost enough to make you forget about the cold mornings, and the crisp winter air.
Here is a few such little heart-of-the-winter pretties that I managed to capture on camera with out in the garden:
But that is not where the true beauty of our winters lies, you see we are immensely blessed wit the fact that we can plant and harvest a great deal of crops pretty much all year round, and even more than that, natures endless treasure trove of medicinal wealth pushes through our winter months and endlessly supplies us with natural medicine straight from the earth.
In Africa there is a saying, "you could easily die next to medicine and food if you don't know your land."
And those words hold great weight if you consider that this continent is forever providing a great wealth of food and medicine to all that live here and care to embrace what the earth has to offer, in stead of chasing commercialized dreams of TV adds and media jargon.
One of the very amazing plant species that really comes into its own during the winter months, is of course the wild aloes of Africa, that boast with their pungent green leaves against an otherwise dreary backdrop of winter while their brightly colored flowers that range from sultry reds to luminous yellows greets the winter sun with a steady salute.
Their warm colors and prominent presence lends a sense of ambivalence and defiance to the fact that we are deep into our winter.
One of my personal favorites of our warm hearted winter aloes of course is the Aloe Ferox.
Aloe Ferox is a close family member to the more commonly known Aloe Vera, however the Aloe Ferox offers a much greater yield in purer and more concentrated product than its counterpart when the plant is harvested for medicinal produce.
“Unlike the vera, aloe ferox does not have to be filtered. Therefore, the aloe ferox maintains more of the natural occurring properties. This means that there are more vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in the aloe ferox than in the aloe vera.”
The name ‘Ferox’ translates directly to FIERCE
Ant this plant certainly is fierce in its own rights, and as such has been widely exported for its medicinal and dermatological uses from as early as the 1700's
Producing 20 times more sap than the Aloe Vera with a much higher nutrient concentrations
"This evergreen aloe is happy in the sun. ... This Aloe was first introduced to Europe in 1700. It is medicinal and the healing sap is exported for the medicine trade. The dried sap has been exported since 1760 It is used as a laxative and to treat arthritis, rheumatism, hypertension and stress."
The goodness of this plant mostly lies with in the bitter cocktail that is produced within its characteristically succulent leaves in form of a bitter brown sap as well as a colorless gel that can both be extracted easily and used for its great healing power. And seeing that I am surrounded by an abundance of these great plants, I decided to harvest and milk some of the aloe ferox leaves to make some medicine for private use.
Harvesting bitter aloe crystals from the aloe ferox is so much easier than it may seem, in fact all you have to do is cut of as many of the fresh aloe leaves as you desire, or have available, and then start by making long shallow incisions down the length of the leave, allowing it to bleed out.
I did this while working on a clean surface covered in cling wrap (you can also use other things like foil) this simply makes gathering the dark orange sticky sap easier.
I allowed the leave to lay face down with the side of the incisions facing the work surface, and after that I let gravity and delusion do the rest. After the plant had bled out for a while and the seepage started getting less, I repeated the process on the other side of the leaf.
The end result was this; a gorgeous amber mass of bitter sap, almost syrup like in consistency and appearance - but don't let that fool you, I can assure you that this nectar certainly holds a lot more bitter than the average person can endure.
One the leaf was completely bled out - I simply spread the golden goo out over the plastic sheet, and placed it in the sun to dry and crystallize.
Once dried, I simply scraped the crystal flakes together. And just like that I had Aloe Ferox Bitter Crystals, ready to be placed into capsulues and used as needed.
Bam - Natures Magic Right There
You can also read up more on aloe crystals, its uses as well as case study references here