superba is a striking tuberous climbing plant with brilliant
wavy-edged yellow and red flowers. There is also a more bushy, yellow-flowered
form. The name Gloriosa comes from the word gloriosus, which
means handsome and superba form the word superb clearly alluding
to the beautiful flowers which appear from November to March. Naturally
it occurs in semi-shade areas among bush on hillsides along the
Cape coast, Natal, Swaziland, Northern Province, Botswana, Namibia,
Flame lilies are grown commercially for a chemical compound. They
are also used by certain people to treat intestinal worms, bruises,
infertility, skin problem and impotence. It is also said that sap
from the leaf tip is used for pimples and skin eruptions by Tswana
and Masai farm workers (Roberts, 1990).
NB. Chemical research showed that all
part of this plant, both above and below ground, are extremely poisonous
and ingestion could be fatal.
Growing Gloriosa superba
this plant from seed sown in September-October and be patient because
the seed might take up to four month to germinate. Seedlings should
be planted straight out in the garden in an equal mix of good garden
soil and compost.
The flame lily must be allowed to scramble up through trees, alternatively
provide a trellis in semi-shade area. In summer it needs to be well
watered, however water should be withheld once the foliage begins
to turn yellow. The tubers are prone to rot under moist conditions
during the winter months. The tubers are brittle and fragile and
need to be handled carefully. Tubers can only be lifted and split
or moved during the dormant period.
Thompson T Mutshinyalo
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden