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Useful Tropical Plants

Gloriosa superba

L.

Colchicaceae

+ Synonyms

Eugone superba (L.) Salisb.

Gloriosa angulata Schumach.

Gloriosa cirrhifolia Stokes

Gloriosa doniana Schult. & Schult.f.

Gloriosa nepalensis G.Don

Gloriosa rockefelleriana Stehlé & M.Stehlé

Gloriosa rothschildiana O'Brien

Gloriosa verschuurii Hoog

Methonica doniana (Schult. & Schult.f.) Kunth

Methonica gloriosa Salisb.

Methonica senegalensis Poit.

Methonica superba (L.) Crantz

Common Name:

Gloriosa superba
Flowering plant, climbing into a shrub
Photograph by: Ks.mini
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Gloriosa superba Gloriosa superba Gloriosa superba Gloriosa superba Gloriosa superba Gloriosa superba Gloriosa superba Gloriosa superba

General Information

Gloriosa superba is a perennial, usually climbing, plant producing sparsely-branched, annual stems from an underground tuber. The stems are usually up to 3 metres long, though occasionally to 6 metres; they can be erect, or they can climb into surrounding vegetation where they attach themselves by means of tendrils at the ends of the leaves[
701
Title
Asean Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://211.114.21.20/tropicalplant/index.jsp
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details, with photos, of many of the plants growing in the tropical forests of southeast Asia. Gives some details of plant uses along with a description of the plant and its range.
].
Although very toxic, the plant is often used in traditional medicine in both Africa and Asia. It is grown commercially as a source of colchicine, which has various medicinal and other uses. A very attractive plant, valued especially for its flowers, it is often grown as an ornamental in the garden, as a pot plant, and is cultivated for the cut flower market[
701
Title
Asean Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://211.114.21.20/tropicalplant/index.jsp
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details, with photos, of many of the plants growing in the tropical forests of southeast Asia. Gives some details of plant uses along with a description of the plant and its range.
].

Known Hazards

The whole plant is highly toxic due to the presence of the alkaloid colchicine[
293
Title
Poisonous Plants of North Carolina
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/poison.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent concise but comprehensive guide to toxic plants that grow in N. Carolina. It lists even those plants that are of very low toxicity, including several well-known food plants such as carrots and potatoes.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pains are often the first signs of poisoning. The diarrhoea may become severe and haemorrhagic, and can thus lead to metabolic acidosis, dehydration, hypotension and shock. A burning sensation in the throat, stomach and skin may also be an early sign of intoxication. Severe reactions include extensive vascular damage and acute renal toxicity with oliguria and haematuria. The patients may develop convulsions, delirium, muscle weakness, neuropathy and ascending paralysis of the central nervous system. In patients who have taken an overdose of Gloriosa superba bulbs, death occurs as a result of respiratory depression and cardiovascular collapse[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Botanical References

266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.

Range

Tropical and southern Africa, through the Indian Ocean and tropical Asia to Malaysia and Indonesia.

Habitat

Locally common in brushwood, hedges and open forest, usually at elevations up to 300 metres, occasionally to 600 metres[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Medicinal Rating *  *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitPerennial Climber
Height2.50 m
PollinatorsSugar Birds, Butterflies
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the lowland tropics and subtropics, where it can be found at elevations up to 600 metres, the plant has a clear preference for seasonal, monsoon climates with a pronounced dry season[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The plant is not resistant to frost[
352
Title
KemperCentreForHomeGardeningPlantFinder
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic cultivation details, plant uses, habitat etc for several thousand species of plants, mainly from the temperate zone.
].
Succeeds in full sun to partial shade[
352
Title
KemperCentreForHomeGardeningPlantFinder
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic cultivation details, plant uses, habitat etc for several thousand species of plants, mainly from the temperate zone.
]. Prefers a moist but well-drained, humus-rich soil[
352
Title
KemperCentreForHomeGardeningPlantFinder
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic cultivation details, plant uses, habitat etc for several thousand species of plants, mainly from the temperate zone.
]. Prefers an acid to neutral soil[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The plant has often escaped from cultivation and has been classified as 'Invasive' in some areas[
305
Title
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hear.org/pier/scientificnames/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A very good website detailing weed species that have been introduced into the Pacific Islands.
].
Plants propagated from seeds take 3 - 4years to bloom[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Plants can flower and produce seeds all year round, though mainly during the rainy season[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
In Tamil Nadu, India, small-scale plantings, raised from tubers, yield on average 250 - 300 kilos of seed per hectare from the second year onwards[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. In South Africa the seed production of 'wild-type' plants is positively correlated with height of the plant, and is on average 258 seeds per plant for plants 60 - 65cm tall compared with about 30 seeds per plant for plants 30 - 40cm tall[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal

Although poisonous, the plant is often used in traditional medicine both in Asia and in Africa. Mainly used in external applications, it is also often injested in small quantities.

In Ayurvedic medicine the tuber is used as an abortifacient, alterative, antiarthritic, antihaemorrhoid, antileprotic, antiperiodic, cholagogue, purgative and tonic[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
,
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
,
701
Title
Asean Tropical Plant Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://211.114.21.20/tropicalplant/index.jsp
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Terse details, with photos, of many of the plants growing in the tropical forests of southeast Asia. Gives some details of plant uses along with a description of the plant and its range.
]. It is considered to be useful in the treatment of ulcers, leprosy, piles, inflammations, abdominal pains, itching and thirst[
646
Title
New Crops FactSheets
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html
Publisher
Purdue University
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A website dedicated to giving information on potential new agricultural crops.
].
At low doses, the tuber is considered to have numerous medicinal applications in Africa. A decoction is taken to treat abdominal disorders, to induce abortions, as a tonic and as a purgative[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The tuber is sometimes used as an emetic to induce vomiting as a means of removing toxins from the body[
775
Title
Gemsbok Bean and Kalahari Truffle
Publication
 
Author
Leffers A.
Publisher
Gamsberg MacMillan; Namibia.
Year
2003
ISBN
99916-0-491-X
Description
Details of the traditional uses of over 200 species of plants in northeastern Namibia. Written for the non-expert, there is usually at least one photograph with each plant entry.
]. The tuber is also part of a preparation used to treat impotence and to act as an abortifacient[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The sap is an ingredient of a drink that induces sleep[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Applied externally, the tuber is used in the treatment of bruises, colic, chronic ulcers, haemorrhoids and cancer. It is put into poultices to relieve neuralgia, and used in topical applications to treat arthritic conditions, swellings of the joints, sprains and dislocations[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. It is claimed to have antidotal properties to snakebites[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The macerated tuber is also taken against smallpox, leprosy, eczema, itch, and ringworm[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. A paste made from the tuber is applied externally to facilitate parturition[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The juice of the tuber is used as ear drops to treat earache, and is also applied to the gums to treat painful teeth[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The anthelmintic properties of the tuber, fruits and leaves are widely known and they are all used to treat infections of Guinea worms, schistosomes (causing bilharzia), roundworm, tapeworm, liver fluke and filaria[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Leaf juice, unripe fruits mixed with butter, and tuber macerate are frequently used to kill head lice[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Soup made from leaf or tuber sap is given to women suffering from sterility, delayed puberty, delayed childbirth and menstrual problems[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The leaves are administered in an enema as a decongestant[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The juice of the plant is drunk as an antimalarial[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Used externally, a leaf decoction is applied as a liniment to ease coughs, general pain and dropsy of the scrotum[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Leaf juice is instilled into the nose in the treatment of fainting[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The crushed leaves are applied to the chest to treat asthma and to affected areas to treat rheumatism[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The herb is burnt and the ash applied to wounds in order to promote healing[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Sap from the leaf tip is applied externally to treat pimples and skin eruptions[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]

The seeds are a commercial source of colchicine, an amino alkaloid which is biosynthetically derived from the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine. The tubers also contain colchicine, but the content of the seeds is reported to be up to ten times higher, hence the importance attached to good seed set when the plant is grown for colchicine production. Colchicine is used in the treatment of gout and rheumatism. At present it is the drug of choice for acute gout. It reduces the inflammatory reaction to urate crystals deposited in the joints[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Because of its highly toxic nature, colchicine should be used under supervision of a physician[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Other Uses

Colchicine, obtained from all parts of the plant but particularly the seeds, inhibits cell division and is used in plant breeding to produce polyploidy[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Extracts of the shoots and of the tubers of the plant show strong nematicidal activity, which can be largely attributed to colchicine[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Propagation

Seed -
Chemical scarification (e.g. with 1% hypochlorite) or removal of the sarcotesta reduces seed dormancy from 6 - 9 months to about 4 months, and accelerates germination from 29 - 30 days to 11 - 15 days[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Germination rates as high as 97% were reached for seeds incubated at 20 - 25°c for a period of 31 days[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Higher temperatures have adverse effects[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Vegetative propagation by tubers is a common practice, but not very suitable for the establishment of large plantings. The maximum number of daughter corms produced per plant is two. Separating the bilobed hypopodial tubers produces a higher percentage of flowering plants than leaving the tubers undivided (about 97% versus about 63%)[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Tuber dormancy can be overcome by soaking in continuously aerated water. Small tubers have been found to have a higher multiplication rate than bigger ones[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2019-11-14. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Gloriosa+superba>

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