At first sight a South African Euphorbia might be mistaken for a South American Cactus, an Aloe for an A gave, a Senecio for ivy, or a New Zealand Veronica for a European Salicornia.
The western dry areas have the old-world leguminous Astragalus and Prosopis (Mesquit), but are especially characterized by the northward extension of the new-world tropical Cactaceae, Mgmmillaria, Cereus and Opuntia, by succulent Amar llideae such as A gave (of which the so-called American aloe is a type), and by arborescent Liliaceae (Yucca).
Manufactures are few and undeveloped, but lace from the aloe fibre, Turkey carpets and basket-work are produced by the villagers, and boats are built at both the principal towns.
The women spin and weave, and with the rudest appliances manufacture a variety of strong and durable cloths of silk,cotton and hemp, and of rofia palm, aloe and banana fibre, of elegant patterns, and often with much taste in colour.
In some cases, as in Aloe venenosa, the juice is poisonous.
In Belgium and the north of France flat ropes of aloe fibre (Manila hemp or plantain fibre) are in high repute, being considered preferable by many colliery managers to wire, in spite of their great weight.
The agave or American aloe is cultivated in a similar manner throughout Andalusia.
The juice extracted by tapping the great aloe before flowering was fermented into an intoxicating drink about the strength of beer, octli, by the Spaniards called pulque.
The Sokotran aloe is highly esteemed; in the middle ages the trade was mostly in these products and in ambergris.
Tobacco, maize and potatoes have been introduced; and the aloe and prickly pear, called in Morocco the Christian fig, are also found.