The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Mother-in-law's Tongue

Afrikaans name: Aambeiwortel

A clump of Mother-in-law's Tongues growing nead Berg-en-Dal in Kruger National Park

Photo © Steven Herbert

Sensevieria hyacinthoides

The Mother-in-law's Tongue is to me a boring plant with an unfortunate/apt name (You choose - I am not going to get involved!)

It is a succulent plant that grows to a medium height of around 60 cm. The leaves can be up to 8 cm wide and are green with light markings and are edged in reddish-brown. It is best known for its leaves, but it does get narrow white flowers. The flowers appear somewhere between spring and autumn.

The Mother-in-law's Tongue can grow in a variety of habitats and can handle both shade and sun. It is a succulent so it can stand some drought. It has a widespread distribution in South Africa where it can be found in all provinces except for the Western Cape, Free State and Northern Cape.

The leaves of the Mother-in-laws Tongue are browsed by Rhino and various species of antelope. The leaves contain a useful fibrous substance that is used by some species of birds, such as weavers, to make their nests.

The rhizomes of this plant are used to treat a variety of ailments including ulcers, stomach disorders, toothache, and earache. The fibres in the leaf can be used to make string.

References and further reading


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