La’au Lapa’au | What Is Bulbine?

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Bulbine frutescensB. latifolia (syn. B. natalensis), and B. narcissifolia
Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae (syn. Asphodelaceae)

INTRODUCTION

Bulbine species are geophytic (plants that have a subterranean storage organ known as a corm), aloe-like succulent perennials with rosettes of fleshy leaves. The amount of water stored above ground (succulence) in Bulbine species, however, may be more important for survival than the amount stored in the corm (geophytism).1 The Bulbine genus includes approximately 78 species2 with a highly disjunct distribution,1 occurring almost entirely in southern Africa,1,2 but with six species in Australia.3 This article concerns the most widely used African species: B. latifolia (syn. B. natalensis), known as broad-leaved bulbine,4 and as rooiwortel (“red root”) in Afrikaans due to its red-orange corm5B. frutescens, known as stalk-bulbine,6 burn jelly plant, cat’s tail, and snake flower7; and B. narcissifolia

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