Definitions

sansevieria zeylanica

Sansevieria

[san-suh-vee-eer-ee-uh, -suh-veer-ee-uh]

Sansevieria (mother-in-law's tongue) is a genus of about 70 species of flowering plants in the family Ruscaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Old World.

They are xerophytic herbaceous to shrubby succulent perennial plants with evergreen strap-shaped leaves, growing to 20 cm to 3 m tall, often forming dense clumps from a spreading rhizome or stolons. The flowers are greenish-white, produced on a simple or branched raceme 40-90 cm long. The fruit is a red or orange berry.

The genus was named in honor of Raimondo di Sangro (1710-1771), prince of San Severo in Italy. Spellings "Sanseveria" and "Sanseviera" are commonly seen as well, the confusion deriving from alternate spellings of the Italian place name.

Uses

In Africa, the leaves are used for fibre production; in some species, e.g. S. ehrenbergii, the plant's sap has antiseptic qualities, and the leaves are used for bandages in traditional first aid.

Several species are popular houseplants in temperate regions, with S. trifasciata the most widely sold; numerous cultivars are available.

References

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