Did you know that Mother-in-Law’s Tongue is one of the most recommended plants for improving air quality? Studies, including those performed by NASA, have consistently shown the plant to remove toxins such as formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and nitrogen oxides—which means that industries and workspaces would greatly benefit by keeping several. It absorbs toxins and releases oxygen, the plant may also release moisture in the air and lessens airborne allergens.
Due to its snake- or flame-like appearance, Sansevieria is often associated with evil—or protection from it. In Africa it’s associated with snakes, swords, and is used as a charm against evil. In Brazil, it’s associated with the spirit of war and traditionally used in rituals to remove the evil eye. Hat’s off to the clever person who named it ‘Mother in Law’s Tongue’!
Despite these dark mythologies, Sansevieria is a virtually indestructible and rather benevolent addition to any room, an easy-to-care-for starter houseplant that will impress any mother-in-law. Today it is one of the most popular ‘trendy’ plants – with its striking silhouette and ‘can’t be’- killed resilience makes for the perfect addition to any interior space.
Sansevieria is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae. It is an evergreen, perennial plant native to Africa. It features dark green leaves with lighter green cross banding. Also called Snake Plant, Saint George’s Sword, and Viper’s Bowstring Hemp. Naturalist Carl Peter Thunberg named it in 1794 after the Italian Prince Raimondo di Sangro, who came from San Severo.
There are some 70 different species of mother-in-law’s tongue. They’re characterised by the grey-green colour with stripes, spots and yellow edges. These sizeable spikes usually don’t grow higher than 1 m. You don’t often see the flowers, but if they appear they will reward your patience with a lovely sweet fragrance. Moths are the primary pollinators attracted by the perfume at night.
The fibers of the plant were once used to make strings for bows and arrows.
We have 6 species occurring in Southern Africa:
- Sansevieria aethiopica Thunb. LC South Central Africa
- Sansevieria concinna E.Br. LC Zimbabwe Coastal southern Tanzania, Mozambique, southern Zimbabwe and KwaZulu-Natal,
- Sansevieria hallii Chahinian LC It is confined to the northeastern parts of the Limpopo Province in South Africa, as well as the southeastern, low lying parts of Zimbabwe.
- Sansevieria hyacinthoides (L.) Druce LC in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, Limpopo Province, North-West, Botswana and Namibia
- Sansevieria metallica Gérôme & Labroy Critically Rare Limpopo
- Sansevieria pearsoniiE.Br. LC Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and northern South Africa.