Hypoxis elata Hook.f.
Hypoxis obconica Nel
Hypoxis patula Nel
Hypoxis rooperi T.Moore
Common Name: African Potato
Hypoxis hemerocallidea is a robust, perennial plant growing from a stout corm-like tuber and producing a cluster of 8 - 12 grass-like leaves around 10 - 60cm tall[
The plant is a very popular medicinal herb in southern Africa, where it is harvested from the wild on a large scale. It is also harvested for the pharmaceutical industry since it has been shown to contain compounds that promote the immune system and inhibit the growth of some cancer cells[
]. Due to the high demand, there have been some attempts at cultivation of the plant for medicinal use. It is sometimes used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations and is grown as an ornamental.
Southern and eastern Africa - Botswana to Zimbabwe and Mozambique, south to southern S. Africa.
Open grasslands and rocky outcrops[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Hypoxis species are generally not very cold tolerant plants and most species are badly damaged or killed by even light frosts. The majority of the S. African species come from summer rainfall areas with litle or no winter rain, and most species will usually grow well in a Mediterranean type of climate with little or no frost[
Species in this genus generally require a light, freely draining soil and a position in full sun or light shade[
Hypoxis species greatly resent root disturbance, plants should be placed in their permanent positions as soon as possible and left undisturbed for as long as possible[
Hypoxis hemerocallidea is a very popular and commonly used medicinal herb in southern Africa where it is often called 'African Potato' and is harvested from the wild on a large scale. The tuber contains some medicinally active compounds, particularly the glucoside compound 'hypoxoside', and has been shown to have an ability to boost the immune system. The compunds are used in the pharmaceutical industry to prepare drugs for the treatment of a range of conditions including HIV/AIDS and cancer[
The tuber is used in the treatment of a range of conditions including cancer, HIV/AIDS, urinary tract diseases, reproductive system diseases, prostate hypertrophy, benign prostate hyperplasia, tuberculosis, syphilis and diabetes[
]. Interestingly, Africans taken as slaves to the Antiles started to use the local species there, Hypoxis decumbens, as a cure for tumours of the testicles[
A decoction of the tuber is taken orally as a treatment for dysmenorrhagia and to prevent premature abortions and miscarriages[
]. The decoction is used in combination with Gymnosporia senegalensis to treat infertility[
The plant has been shown to contain the glucoside 'hypoxoside'. Once in the human gut this readily converts to 'rooperol', a biologically active compound that has been shown to balance the immune system[
]. It acts as an immunostimulant and can inhibit growth of cancer cells especially of tumours of the urinary and reproductive systems[
It is however suspected that certain chemical compounds present in the plant may have adverse effects and lower the efficiency of antiretroviral drugs used in AIDS treatment[
An extract of the bulbs is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as an antimicrobial, antioxidant and skin conditioner[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe[
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