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Sansevieria hyacinthoides - (L.) Druce

Common Name African Bowstring Hemp
Family Asparagaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Dry karoo, bushveld or savannah, in well drained sandy or rocky soil.
Range Southern Africa - Namibia to Kenya and Tanzania, south to S. Africa.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Sansevieria hyacinthoides African Bowstring Hemp

Sansevieria hyacinthoides African Bowstring Hemp
Wikimedia.org - Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE


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Physical Characteristics

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Sansevieria hyacinthoides is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.1 m (0ft 4in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Acyntha guineensis (L.) Medik. Acyntha thyrsiflora (Thunb.) Kuntze Aletris guineensis (L.) Jacq. Aletris hyacinthoides (L.) L. Aloe guineensis (L.) Jacq. Aloe hyacinthoides L. Cordyline guineensis (L.) Britton Cordyline hyacinthoides (L.) W.Wight Pleomele aloifolia Salisb. Salmia guineensis (L.) Cav. Salmia spicata Cav. Sanseverinia thyrsiflora Petagna Sansevieria angustiflora Lindb. Sansevieria angustifolia Baker Sansevieria ceylonica Oken Sansevieria fulvocincta Haw. Sansevieria guineensis (L.) Willd. Sansevieria laetevirens Haw. Sansevieria latifolia Bojer Sansevieria polyphylla Haw. Sansevieria rufocincta Baker Sansevieria spicata (Cav.) Haw. Sansevieria stenophylla Link Sansevieria thyrsiflora (Petagna) Thunb. Veltheimia guineensis (L.) Neck.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

A decoction of the rootstock is used as a treatment against internal parasites[46 ]. The plant is used as a treatment for fevers, toothache, ear affections and haemorrhoids[317 ]. The leaves contain steroidal compounds.[317 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
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Other Uses

A good quality fibre is obtained from the leaves[317 , 454 ]. An excellent, soft, silky and elastic fibre[459 ]. It is used for making clothes, nets, string, mats and for the production of fine papers etc[317 , 418 ]. Attracts butteflies and birds. Good for pots and indoors. Industrial Crop: Fiber.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Fiber  Management: Hay  Minor Global Crop

A plant of the tropics. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 30°c, but can tolerate 15 - 36°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 700 - 1,400mm, but tolerates 500 - 2,000mm[418 ]. Requires a sunny position in a well-drained soil[200 ]. Succeeds in most soils[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7.5, tolerating 6 - 8[418 ]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[200 ]. The plant can spread freely at the roots. It is considered an invasive weed in Florida[423 ]. Fibre yields of up to 2.25 tonnes per hectare per year have been recorded[418 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Fiber  Clothing, rugs, sheets, blankets etc. Currently, almost none of our fiber are produced from perennial crops but could be!
  • Management: Hay  Cut to the ground and harvested annually. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - Division of the rootstock. Leaf cuttings. Cut the leaf into sections about 5cm long, place in a 2:1 mix of sand and peat in a propagating case with a bottom heat of 18°c[200 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Common Names: English: bowstring hemp; iguanatail; mother-in-law’s tongue; snake plant. Spanish: lengua de suegra; lengua de vaca. Local Common Names: Dominican Republic: Espada de Santa Elena; Espada de Santa Teresa; Hoja de Santa Elena. Haiti: oreilles d’ane; safran; z’oreilles bourrique. Lesser Antilles: bowstring; karata; langue a chat; lash; sanddragon de cermitiere; z’oreille a bourrique. Mozambique: tchikwenga. Puerto Rico: chucho; cocuisa; lengua de chuco; sansiviera. Saint Lucia: lanng bèlmè; mother-in-law's-tongue.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

It is considered an invasive weed in Florida[423 ]. Included in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012).

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Least Concern ver 3.1

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Sansevieria roxburghianaIndian Bowstring Hemp, Bowstring HempPerennial1.0 10-12 FLMSNDM033
Sansevieria trifasciataMother-in-Law's Tongue, Snake plantPerennial0.8 10-12 MLMHSNDM023
Sansevieria zeylanica Bowstring hempPerennial0.6 9-11 MLMHNDM024

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(L.) Druce

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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