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 Sansevieria subsp. var.  Bowstring hemp, Mother-in-law's tongue
Sansevieria trifasciata
Habit: cacti-succulent
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial
Exposure: part-sun, shade
Water: moderate, dry
Features: evergreen, foliage, houseplant
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Dracaenaceae > Sansevieria var. , Thunb.

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Sansevieria, whose common names include: mother-in-law's tongue, devil's tongue, jinn's tongue, and snake plant, is a genus of about 70 species of flowering plants in the family Ruscaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Old World.[1]

They are xerophytic herbaceous to shrubby succulent perennial plants with evergreen strap-shaped leaves, growing to 20 cm to 3 m tall, often forming dense clumps from a spreading rhizome or stolons. The flowers are greenish-white, produced on a simple or branched raceme 40–90 cm long. The fruit is a red or orange berry.

Several species are popular houseplants in temperate regions, with Sansevieria trifasciata the most widely sold; numerous cultivars are available. The Chinese usually keep this plant potted in a pot often ornated with dragons and phoenixes[2]. Growth is comparatively slow and the plant will last for many years. The tall-growing plants have stiff, erect, lance-shaped leaves while the dwarf plants grow in rosettes. As houseplants, Sansevieria thrive on warmth and bright light, but will also tolerate shade. Sansevieria can rot from over-watering, so it is important that they are potted in well-drained soil, and not over-watered.

Another beautiful species is Sansevieria cylindrica which has leaves which look quite different from the "traditional" Sansevieria genus, but equally tough.

Air Purification
Like the Epipremnum aureum (Golden Pothos) and Dracaena fragrans (corn plant), Sansevieria is believed to act as good air purifiers by removing toxins (such as formaldehyde, xylene and toluene[3]) from the air, thereby gaining a reputation as a good cure for the "Sick Building Syndrome"[4][5][6]. Some reports seem to suggest that Sansevieria produces oxygen at night which makes it suitable as a plant to be placed in the bedroom[7].

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Sansevieria (after Raimond de Sangro, Prince of Sanseviero, born at Naples 1710. The spelling Sanseviera is not the earliest). Liliaceae. Bowstring Hemp. Herbaceous perennials, essentially tender foliage plants, although beautiful in flower, adapted to the coolhouse. They are grown for the stiff erect lvs., which are usually variegated.

Rhizome short, thick, sometimes stoloniferous: lvs. in a basal rosette, thick cartilaginous, frequently elongated, rather flat or terete: scape simple, tall, stout: fls. greenish white, medium-sized or long, clustered in an often dense raceme; perianth-tube slender, sometimes very long; stamens 6; ovary free, 3-celled.—Trop. and S. Afr. and India; the most recent treatment is by N. E. Brown in Kew Bulletin, 1915, where 54 species are described. The genus is important in yielding fiber.

Sansevierias are easily propagated by division or they may be raised from leaf-cuttings about 3 inches long. These cuttings form roots in sandy soil after about one month, after which a long stolon-like bud is formed, which produces the new plant at some distance from the cutting. Sansevierias are well adapted to house decoration, since they do not require much sunlight. A rather heavy soil suits them best.

The following species have been grown in various botanical gardens but are not known to be in general cult. unless otherwise specified. S. aethiopica, Thunb. Succulent, stemless subshrub: lvs. somewhat rosulate, suberect or erect-spreading, 5-16 in. long, thick, linear-lanceolate, acute, running out into white awl-like tips 2-3 in. long, concave-channeled, back strongly convex, sometimes transversely dark green-banded, margins red or white, somewhat glaucous: infl. 16-30 in. long; fls. white. S. Afr. B.M. 8487.—S. arborescens, Cornu, has sts. reaching a height of 4 ft., furnished entirely with short spreading lvs. E. Trop. Afr.—S. conspicua, N. E. Br., is a stemless herb: lvs. 3-5, lanceolate, 9-24 in. long, green on both surfaces, with dark lines above and rusty brown margins: fls. white, E. Trop. Afr.—S. Cornui, Ger. & Labr., is stemless, the lvs. not bordered and only a little striped at the base and on the outside. Senegambia; properly S. senegambica, Baker.—S. Craigii, Hort., is offered in the American trade as a form with variegated lvs.—S. fasciata, Cornu, is stemless: lvs. flat, leathery, 2 1/2 ft. long, 5 in. broad in the middle, bright green, striped and bordered with brown. Congo.—S. glauca, Hort., not Haw., resembles S. zeylanica, but the lvs. are somewhat shorter and not striate. Cochin-China.—S. grandis, Hook. f. Stemless: lvs. few, rosulate, obovate-oblong, the largest 3-4 ft. long, 6 in. broad, dull green with broad bands of much darker green: scape 2 ft. high, bearing a densely fld. terminal spike-like panicle 2-3 ft. long: fls. pure white, about 2 in. across. Trop. Afr. B.M. 7877. It produces a very strong, silky fiber.—S. intermedia, N. E. Br., is very similar to S. cylindrica, but the lvs. are channeled, the edges of the channel being acute below and obtusely rounded above. E. Trop. Afr.—S. liberica, Ger. & Labr. Lvs. more than 3 ft. long, bordered with ivory-white, not striped. W. Trop. Afr.—S. metallica, Ger. & Labr., is closely allied to what is called S. guineensis having shorter and somewhat broader lvs., which have a metallic tint and fewer markings.—S. rorida, N. E. Br. (Sanseverina rorida, Lanza), is almost stemless: lvs. 2-ranked, erect-spreading, horn-shaped, terete beneath, deeply channeled above: scape flexuous, longer than the lvs.: panicle elongated with many short reflexed branches: fls. small. Italian Somaliland.—S. Stuckyi, Godefr., is stemless: lvs. quite cylindric except a small furrow on the upper surface. E. Afr.—S. zanzibarica, Ger. & Labr., is short-stemmed: lvs. in a distichous rosette, subterete, without furrows, very rigid, up to 5-6 ft. long. Zanzibar. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



Pests and diseases


Sansevieria cylindrica
Sansevieria ehrenbergii
Sansevieria hyacinthoides
Sansevieria trifasciata



  1. Mbugua, P. K.; D. M. Moore. "Taxonomic studies of the genus Sansevieria (Dracaenaceae)". in L. J. G. van der Maesen, M. van der Burgt, J. M. van Medenbach de Rooy, editors (hardcover). The Biodiversity of African Plants (1st ed.). p. 880. 

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