There is a lot of confusion between this species, Sansevieria roxburghiana from India and Sansevieria zeylanica from Sri Lanka[
]. It is most likely that they all have similar uses.
Sansevieria caespitosa Dinter
Sansevieria glauca Haw.
Sansevieria scabrifolia Dinter
Sansevieria thunbergii Mattei
Sansevieria zeylanica non Willd.
Common Name: Bowstring Hemp
Cultivated flowering plant at Rawlings Conservatory
Photograph by: David Stang
Bowstring hemp is an evergreen, succulent, perennial plant producing long, narrow, erect or slightly spreading sword-shaped leaves up to 75cm long from a rhizomatous rootstock. The plant can spread to form colonies.
A good quality fibre is obtained from the leaves of wild plants, which are also used for local medicinal purposes.
South and east Africa - South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya.
Dry open places, bush-veldt or savannah, in well drained sandy or rocky soil
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Requires a very sunny position in a very well-drained sandy gritty loam[
] and a pH between 6 and 7[
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
The rhizome is a source of water[
The leaves are bruised, then heated for a short time. They are then twisted by hand and the fluid thus obtained is dripped into the ear as a cure for ear problems[
A high quality fibre is obtained from the leaves. It is used for making sails and paper[
Division of suckers as growth commences in the spring.
Leaf-cuttings, 7cm long placed in sand in a frame[
]. The leaf is cut into sections, the cut surfaces allowed to dry for a few hours, and the sections then placed in pots in a warm light frame, but with shelter from direct sunlight. Rooting and new growth should take place within a month.
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