Bulbine narcissifolia



Scientific name:Bulbine narcissifolia  

Family: Bulbine narcissifolia

Common Names: strap-leafed bulbine, snake flower (Eng.); lintblaar bulbine, geelslangkop, wildekopieva (Afr.); khomo-ea-balisa, serelelile (Southern Sotho)


Picture: Bulbine narcissifolia

Description:  Bulbine narcissifolia is a succulent, stemless, perennial herb with a rhizomatous base. Plants grow singly or in small clumps.

Leaves :  The grey-green leaves are strap-shaped, laxly twisted, and semi-succulent and up to 350mm long with a yellowish exudate.

Flowers: Flowers are dense, spike-like yellow inflorescences with white bracts covering the flower buds.

Flowering time: February to April and September to November,

Ecology: Like most other species in this genus, Bulbine narcissifolia is insect pollinated and frequently visited by bees.

Uses: Bulbine narcissifolia is used medicinally by the Basotho and Griqua for wound healing and as a mild purgative. As with many other Bulbine species, the roots can also be taken to counteract vomiting, diarrhoea and urinary infections. It is also commonly used to treat diabetes, rheumatism and blood problems.

Distribution and habitat: Bulbine narcissifolia occurs from eastern regions of the Western Cape, through the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, Free State, North-West, Gauteng, Limpopo, Botswana and further north to Ethiopia. It favours grassland and frequently forms small to large colonies, especially in overgrazed areas.


Qhotsokoane-Lusunzi, M.A. & Karuso, P. 2001. Secondary metabolites from Basotho medicinal plants. 

I. Bulbine narcissifolia. Journal of Natural Products 64: 1368-1372.

Smith, C.A. 1966. Common names of South African plants. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa No. 35.

Van Wyk, B-E. & Gericke, N. 2000. People's plants: a guide to useful plants of southern Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria