Skip to main content
You are here
Facebook icon
Pinterest icon
Twitter icon

Gloriosa superba (flame lily)

Flame lily is a climber with spectacular red and yellow flowers, but all parts of the plant (especially the tubers) are extremely poisonous and can be fatal if eaten.
Red and yellow flame-like flowers of the flame lily

Gloriosa superba (Photo: Macvivo at en.wikipedia)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Gloriosa superba L.

Common name: 

flame lily, glory lily, climbing lily, creeping lily

Conservation status: 

Least Concern according to IUCN Red List criteria.

Habitat: 

Sparse savanna woodlands, grasslands, sand dunes, in abandoned fields or at the boundaries of cultivated ground and roadsides; in sandy-loam soil.

Key Uses: 

Medicinal, ornamental.

Known hazards: 

All parts of the plant are extremely poisonous due to the presence of toxic alkaloids, including colchicine; ingestion can be fatal; contact can result in skin irritation.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Lilianae
Order: 
Liliales
Family: 
Colchicaceae
Genus: Gloriosa

About this species

Flame lily is a tuberous herb, which is widespread in tropical and southern Africa and in tropical Asia. The generic name Gloriosa means ‘full of glory’ and the specific epithet superba means ‘superb’, alluding to the striking red and yellow flowers.

All parts of the plant, but especially the tubers (swollen, underground stems), are extremely poisonous and the ingestion of flame lily has caused many accidental deaths. It has also been used to commit murder, suicide, to induce abortions and to poison dogs. African porcupines and some moles are reputed to be able to consume the roots with no ill effects.

Synonym: 

Methonica superba, Eugone superba

Genus: 
Gloriosa

main info