Bulbine narcissifolia

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Botanical Name
Bulbine narcissifolia
Asphodeloideae -
bul-BIN-ee nar-SIS-ih-FOE-lee-ah
Common Name(s)
English: strap-leafed bulbine; snake flower
Afrikaans: geelslangkop
IsiXhosa: umalala
Sesotho: khomo-ea-balisa; serelelile
Plant Group
  • Succulent A plant having fleshy stems or leaves often adapted to dry conditions.
Plant Size
  • Medium
    Tree10m to 16m
    Shrub1m to 2m
    Perennial/ground cover40cm to 60cm
    Bulb40cm to 60cm
    Succulent40cm to 60cm
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Deciduous to Semi-deciduous In warmer areas a deciduous plant may not lose its leaves during winter at all, or may lose its leaves for a very brief period, or may only lose part of its foliage.
  • Drought Tolerance: High The plant is well adapted to arid conditions; it can survive long periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Frost: Hardy The plant can withstand freezing temperatures or frost without artificial protection.
  • Water Wise Plant species originating from low rainfall regions that require less water to survive and thrive than other plant species.
  • Wind Tolerant Plants able to withstand the effect of strong winds.
Specific Information

Generally only deciduous in cold conditions. The leaves are unusual and attractive: grey-green in colour, strap-shaped and loosely twisted.

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small star-shaped flowers on an erect stem (raceme)

  • Spring to Summer Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • yellow
Growth Rate
  • Moderate to Fast Specifying growth rate can be very misleading as there is considerable variation of growth rate depending on type and species of plant, available water, supplementary feeding, mulching and general care, as well as the plants suitability and adaptability to the garden environment.
Plant Uses
  • Attracts bees, butterflies or other insects This plant attracts insects which can be food for birds or other creatures in your garden.
  • Cut Flowers Plants that provide flowers suitable for ornamental uses.
  • Filler Either a fast growing tree or shrub used temporarily to fill in an area while the permanent plants grow to a desired size, or a plant used to fill gaps in borders or beds.
  • Interplanting Arranging and planting plants in the garden that have different blooming times and habits of growth, extending the amount of time in which the area is in flower.
  • Mass Planting Plants useful for filling a large area with just one or a few kinds of plants spaced close together. Creates a bold, dramatic effect and to reduces maintenance.
  • Pot Plant A plant that needs a protected environment on a patio or indoors.
  • Rock Garden An area constructed of larger rocks, arranged naturally, to emphasise the use of stones as a main element. Generally plants used do not need a lot of care.
  • Wild Garden An indigenous garden planted for the benefit of wildlife and birds. Provides food, water, a variety of mini-biomes and no poisonous chemicals are used.
Distribution and Habitat

from the eastern regions of the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, Free State, North-West, Gauteng, Limpopo and Botswana to Ethiopia, in dry river valleys and rocky gorges and on cliffs, in well drained shale or sandstone soils

Planting Suggestions

Plant Bulbine narcissifolia in humus-rich soil to ensure healthy plants, fast growth and prolific flowering. Mulch regularly to retain water in the soil. Bulbine narcissifolia can tolerate, but do not require, regular watering.

Medicinal Uses

Bulbine narcissifolia has been used for wound healing and as a mild purgative. The roots can also be taken to quell vomiting, diarrhoea and urinary infections. It is also used to treat diabetes, rheumatism and blood problems.

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