Sansevieria hyacinthoides (Mother-in-law's Tongue)
Plant image

Sansevieria hyancinthanoides is an extremely durable and tough plant with long, linear leaves, often with light green contrasting horizontal markings.

Name & classification

Botanical name:
Sansevieria hyacinthoides

Common names:
Mother-in-law's Tongue, Piles Root, African Bowstring Hemp (Eng.)
Aambeiwortel, Skoonma-se-tong (Afr.)
Isikholokotho, Isikhwendle, Isitokotoko (Zulu)
Isikholokotho (Xhosa)
Ghaiwortel (Khoi)
xikwenga (Tsonga)

Sansevieria angustiflora, Sansevieria grandis, Sansevieria grandis var. zuluensis, Sansevieria guineensis, Sansevieria thyrsiflora

Plant family:

Plant categories:
Cacti and Succulents; Herbaceous Perennials; Bulbs, Corms, Rhizomes or Tubers



Leaf habit:

1 metre

Plant shape:
Succulent, perennial, and stemless herb with fleshy creeping rhizomes and erect, fleshy leaves.

Leaf description:
Leaves are erect, rigid, loosely clustered, fleshy, fibrous, flat, lanceolate or narrowly elliptic, 30 to 100 x 3 to 9 cm, the apex acute or obtuse, the tissue leathery and dull green but mottled transversely with numerous more or less obscure pale green bands. The margins have a fine reddish line.

Flower description:
Inflorescence in a spike-like raceme of multiple flower clusters, 30 to 70 cm long, subtended by linear, sheathing bracts. Flowers are showy, 2 to 6 per cluster, greenish-white to cream coloured, fragrant, up to 3 cm long, perianth tubular (1½ cm long) and opening to 6 linear, recurved lobes, stamens and style exerted beyond perianth.

Flower colour:
Greenish-white to cream coloured

Flowering months:

Flower scent:

Fruit description:
Fruits are an orange to reddish berry, up to 1 cm diameter, containing 1 to 3 hard, globose seeds.

Seed description:
Hard, globose seeds 7 to 8 mm diameter.

Other distinctive features:
Fleshy creeping rhizomes.


Natural distribution:
Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Limpopo, as well as Mozambique Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Rocky outcrops and in woodlands.

Water requirements:
- Select -

Frost tolerance:
Semi-hardy (tolerates mild frost for short periods)

Light conditions:
Sun; semi-shade; shade

Other Characteristics

Drought resistant
Wind resistant
Has aggressive roots
Disease resistant
Pest resistant
Suitable for growing in containers
Low maintenance

Edibility & Toxicity

We have no confirmation that any part of this plant is edible
We have no confirmation that any part of this plant is toxic, however we urge caution as this information may be incorrect.


Interaction with physical surroundings:
Fruits are loved by birds
Attracts birds

Other information

Uses & Cultural aspects:
The rhizomes and leaves of Sanseveria are used for earache, stomach ache, toothache, ulcers, haemorrhoids, diarrhoea and internal parasites.

A strong rope is made from the fibres in the leaves.

Plant in well drained garden soil mixed with plenty of compost and mulch. Water regularly until established, after which water need only be supplemented during particularly dry spells. It will grow in full sun but is far more vigorous and attractive grown in shade.

Like most Sansevaria's, this one is easily grown from leaf cuttings. Cut the leaf as low as possible to the ground. Insert the entire leaf into a well-draining, fairly dry soil. After a few days water just enough to dampen the soil and allow it to dry out again. Keep repeating this pattern. The roots form fairly quickly.

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