This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
A noble genus of succulent or fleshy-leaved plants with a tall branched inflorescence resembling a huge candelabrum. Perianth funnel - shaped, persistent, of six nearly equal divisions. Stamens exceeding the expanded perianth. The name is from the Greek ayavos, in allusion to the stately habit of many species They are chiefly natives of Mexico and South America. The best known is A. Americana, but this is only hardy in the south-western counties of England. It is almost stemless, with very massive fleshy spinose crowded leaves from 3 to 6 feet long, which are of many years' duration. It is essentially monocarpic, but it is usually many years before it reaches maturity. The inflorescence attains a height of 20 or 30 feet, bearing many hundreds of erect yellowish flowers. This plant is commonly known as the American Aloe, and is usually grown in tubs to admit of giving it shelter the more readily in Winter. It is exceedingly ornamental, and is a very striking object in a large garden, especially the variegated variety.