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Gloriosa superba - Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Login Logout
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Gloriosa superba

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Gloriosa superba is a species of flowering plant in the family Colchicaceae. Common names include flame lily, climbing lily, creeping lily, glory lily,<ref name=grin>Template:GRIN</ref> gloriosa lily, tiger claw,<ref name=flo>Scheper, J. Gloriosa superba. Floridata.com.</ref> and fire lily.<ref name=pier>Gloriosa superba. Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER).</ref>

Description

"Red" immature flower

This species is a perennial herb growing from a fleshy rhizome.<ref name=foc>Gloriosa superba. Flora of China.</ref> It is scandent, climbing using tendrils, the stem reaching 4 meters long.<ref name=kew>Gloriosa superba. World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. 2011. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.</ref> The leaves are mainly alternately arranged, but they may be opposite, as well. They are somewhat lance-shaped and tipped with tendrils, and they are up 13<ref name=foc/> to 20 centimeters long.<ref name=weeds>Thorp, J. R. and M. Wilson. (1998 onwards). Gloriosa superba. Weeds Australia. The National Weeds Strategy.</ref> The showy flower has six tepals each up to 5<ref name=foc/> to 7.6<ref name=purdue>Oudhia, P. (2002). Gloriosa Superba. New Crop Resource Online Program. Center for New Crops & Plant Products. Purdue University.</ref> centimeters long. They are generally bright red<ref name=foc/> to orange<ref name=weeds/> at maturity, sometimes with yellowish bases. The margins may be quite wavy. The six stamens also are long, up to 4 centimeters, and each bears a large anther at the tip that drops large amounts of yellow pollen. The style may be more than 6 centimeters long. One flower may weigh over 2.5 grams.<ref name=selva>Selvarasu, A. and R. Kandhasamy. (2012). Reproductive biology of Gloriosa superba. Open Access Journal of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants 3(2) 5-11.</ref> The fruit is a fleshy capsule up to 6<ref name=kew/> to 12 centimeters long<ref name=fer>Fernando, R. and D. Widyaratna. (1989). Gloriosa superba. INCHEM. International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS).</ref> containing red seeds.<ref name=foc/><ref name=weeds/> Cultivars of this popular garden plant may vary from these wild-type characteristics; the cultivar 'Lutea' has all-yellow tepals, 'Citrina' is yellow with red markings, and 'Nana' is a dwarf.<ref name=flo/> Whitish forms are known, as well.<ref name=fer/>

Ecology

The plant likely is pollinated by butterflies and sunbirds.<ref name=kew/> It grows in many types of habitat, including tropical jungles,<ref name=flo/> forests, thickets,<ref name=foc/> woodlands, grasslands, and sand dunes.<ref name=kew/> It can grow in nutrient-poor soils.<ref name=lal>Lal, H. S. and P. K. Mishra. (2011). Gloriosa superba – an endangered plant spotted for the first time from forest of Tpchanchi, Hazaribag (Jharkhand) India.Template:Dead link Science Research Reporter 1(2) 61-64.</ref> It can be found at as high as 2500 meters in elevation.<ref name=kew/>

Toxicity

This plant is poisonous, toxic enough to cause human and animal fatalities if ingested. It has been used to commit murder, to achieve suicide,<ref name=fer/> and to kill animals.<ref name=kew/> Every part of the plant is poisonous, especially the tuberous rhizomes. As with other members of the Colchicaceae, this plant contains high levels of colchicine, a toxic alkaloid. It also contains the alkaloid gloriocine. Within a few hours of the ingestion of a toxic amount of plant material, a victim may experience nausea, vomiting, numbness, and tingling around the mouth, burning in the throat, abdominal pain, and bloody diarrhea, which leads to dehydration.<ref name=lal/> As the toxic syndrome progresses, rhabdomyolysis, ileus,<ref name=fer/> respiratory depression, hypotension, coagulopathy, haematuria, altered mental status, seizures, coma, and ascending polyneuropathy may occur.<ref name=lal/> Longer-term effects include peeling of the skin and prolonged vaginal bleeding in women.<ref name=fer/> Colchicine is known to cause alopecia. One case report described a patient who accidentally ate the tubers and then experienced hair loss over her entire body, including complete baldness.<ref name=goon>Gooneratne, B. W. M. (1966). Massive generalized alopecia after poisoning by Gloriosa superba. Br Med J 1 1023–24.</ref> Poisonings can occur when the tubers are mistaken for sweet potatoes<ref name=fer/> or yams and eaten.<ref name=goon/> The plant can be dangerous for cats, dogs, horses,<ref name=aspca>Gloriosa Lily. ASPCA.</ref> and livestock,<ref name="prota">Dounias, E. Gloriosa superba L. Protabase Record Display. Plant Resources of Tropical Africa (PROTA).</ref> as well.

Human uses

The alkaloid-rich plant has long been used as a traditional medicine in many cultures. It has been used in the treatment of gout, infertility, open wounds, snakebite, ulcers, arthritis, cholera, colic, kidney problems, typhus,<ref name=kew/> itching, leprosy,<ref name=purdue/> bruises, sprains, hemorrhoids, cancer, impotence, nocturnal emission,<ref name=lal/> smallpox, sexually transmitted diseases, and many types of internal parasites.<ref name=prota/> It is an anthelmintic.<ref name=pawar>Pawar, B. M., et al. (2010). Anthelmintic activity of Gloriosa superba Linn (Liliaceae). International Journal of PharmTech Research 2(2) 1483–87.</ref> It has been used as a laxative and an alexiteric.<ref name=purdue/> The sap is used to treat acne and head lice.<ref name=lal/> In a pregnant woman, it may cause abortion.<ref name=purdue/><ref name=prota/><ref name=kew/> In parts of India, extracts of the rhizome are applied topically during childbirth to reduce labor pain.<ref name=lal/>

Other uses for this plant include arrow poison in Nigeria<ref name=prota/> and snake repellent in India.<ref name=fer/> Some cultures consider it to be magical.<ref name=lal/> The flowers are part of religious rituals.<ref name=fer/>

This species is the national flower of Zimbabwe.<ref name=kew/><ref name=mpofu>Mpofu, T. Zimbabwe's national flower faces extinction. The National. Abu Dhabi Media. February 26, 2010.</ref><ref name=foz>Gloriosa superba. Flora of Zimbabwe.</ref><ref name=msu>Winter, N. Glory lily vines are exotic and wonderful. Office of Agricultural Communications. Mississippi State University. July 13, 2006.</ref><ref name=ade>Ade, R. and M. K. Rai. (2009). Review: Current advances in Gloriosa superba L. Biodiversitas 10(4) 210-14.</ref> In 1947, Queen Elizabeth II received a diamond brooch in the shape of this flower for her twenty-first birthday while traveling in Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe.<ref name=uk>Flame Lily Brooch, 1947. Queen and Commonwealth, The Royal Tour. The Royal Collection Trust.</ref>

Conservation and invasion

In general, this plant is common in the wild. It is in great demand for medicinal use, so it is cultivated on farms in India, but most plant material sold into the pharmaceutical trade comes from wild populations.<ref name=kew/> This is one reason for its decline in parts of its native range. In Sri Lanka it has become rare, and in Orissa it is thought to be nearing extinction.<ref name=kew/> On the other hand, it has been introduced outside its native range and has become a weed which may be invasive. In Australia, for example, it now can be found growing in coastal areas of Queensland and New South Wales.<ref name=weeds/> It also is cited as an invasive species in the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Kiribati, and Singapore.<ref name=pier/>

In cultivation

The plant can be propagated sexually by seed or vegetatively by dividing the rhizome. Problems during cultivation include inadequate pollination, fungal diseases such as leaf blight and tuber rot, and crop pests such as the moths Polytela gloriosa and Chrysodeixis chalcites.<ref name=prota/> It is also a crop that is slow to propagate; each split tuber produces only one extra plant in a year's time. In vitro experiments with plant tissue culture have been performed,<ref name=singh>Singh, D., et al. (2012). Callus induction from corm of Gloriosa superba Linn: An endangered medicinal plant. BioTechnology: An Indian Journal 6(2) 53-55.</ref> and some increased the yield.<ref name=yadav>Yadav, K., et al. (2012). Actions for ex situ conservation of Gloriosa superba L. - an endangered ornamental cum medicinal plant. J Crop Sci Biotech 15(4) 297-303.</ref>

Both the fruit and the rhizome are harvested. The fruits are dried and split, and the seeds are removed and dried further. The seeds and rhizomes are sold whole, as powder, or as oil extracts.<ref name=prota/>

References

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External links

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