Mother-in-law's tongue is the common name of Sansevieria, an evergreen plant native to parts of Africa and Brazil that is grown as a house plant in the United States. Also known as snake plant, golden bird's nest and good luck plant, it has long, upright leaves with sharp edges and pointed tips.
Sansevieria is easy to grow. The plant does well in an indoor environment in dry soil and air, and although it prefers direct to partial sunlight, it can survive in the shade. It grows slowly and rarely needs to be transplanted. Sansevieria's ideal growing temperature is 65 to 70 F, but it tolerates temperature variations. It is propagated by dividing at the roots or by cultivating leaf cuttings. Mother-in-law's tongue does not do well in wet soil and is susceptible to small insects such as thrips and scale. Some growers cut off the sharp tips of the leaves because they pose a hazard to children or pets. The plant is also toxic to cats and dogs and can cause vomiting or diarrhea if ingested. There are several types of mother-in-law's tongue with different leaf patterns, such as stripes, variegated leaves and leaves bordered with yellow or white. There is also a dwarf variety that grows only a few inches tall.