COMMON NAME: Glory lily, Tiger claw


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Gloriosa superba

FAMILY: Colchicaceae


Bachnag, Kadyanag, Kari hari, Languli, Ulatchandal (Hindi)

Agnisikhe, Karadikanninagadde, Siva-raktaballi, Siva-saktiballi (Kannada)

Kithonni, Mendoni (Malayalam)

Kal-lavi, Indai, Khadyanag, Vaghachabaka (Marathi)

Kallappai kilangu (Tamil)

DISTRIBUTION: Native to India, tropical Africa and Southeast Asia. Locally common in thickets, grasslands, hedges, bush land and open forest, where it can be seen scrambling through other shrubs. It is the national flower of Zimbabwe, and the state flower of Tamil Nadu.

DESCRIPTION: An herbaceous plant which climbs with the use of tendrils at the tips of its leaves




(Right) Glory lily leaf ending in a tendril

Chemicals derived from all parts of the plant are used in traditional medicine in tropical African countries, and in India, it is much used in Unani and Ayurvedic medicine. It is also used as an antidote for snake bites and scorpion stings. But in larger doses, it is very dangerous and can be fatal! It is planted around doors and windows to repel snakes, and in Nigeria, it is even used at the tips of poison arrows. While its human uses are interesting, it should be remembered that these are in fact defence mechanisms for the plant, to prevent herbivores from feeding on it.

© All images on this page are the work and property of Prasanjeet Yadav and Siddarth Machado