All about lily of the nile


The scientific name of african lily is Agapanthus africanus Linn.

Scientific names Common names
Abumon africanum (L.) Britton African lily (Engl.)
Agapanthus africanus (L.) Hoffmans Lily of the Nile (Engl.)
Agapanthus minor Lodd. Love flower (Engl.)
Agapanthus umbellatus L’Hér.
Crinum africanum L.
Mauhlia africana (L.) Dahl
Mauhlia linearis Thunb.
Mauhlia umbellata (L’Hér.) Thunb. ex Schult. & Schult.f.
Tulbaghia africana (L.) Kuntze
Tulbaghia heisteri Fabr.
Tulbaghia minor (Lodd.) Kuntze
Agapanthus africanus (L.) Hoffmanns. is an accepted name

The name agapanthus (flower of love) derives from the Greek work agape meaning love, and anthos meaning love. Africanus derives from Latin referring to its African origin.


Agapanthus africanus is an evergreen shrub with thick rhizomes. Stems are stout, bearing a tuft of long, narrow leaves. Leaves are basal, 2-ranked, linear-lanceolate, up to 50 centimeters long and 2-4 centimeters wide. Flower stalks are stout, erect, up 30 to 50 centimeters high. Flowers are in umbels, 12- to 30-flowered, usually bright blue-violet, crowded at the end of along stalk,


– Ornamental pot cultivation.

– Native to Southern Africa but naturalized in scattered places in the world.


– Saponins and sapogenins of the furostane and spirostane type, including agapanthegenin and steroid spirostan sapogenins.

– Anthycyanin gives the colors to the flowers.

– Study has yielded a chacone compound, Isoliquiritigenin.


– Considered cardiac, stomachic, uterotonic. oxytoxic, pectoral, expectorant, aperient, purgative, nephritic.


– Leaf may cause mouth pain and ulcerations. May be irritating to the eyes and skin. Suspected but unproven hemolytic effects.

Parts utilized

Rhizomes, leaves and roots.

Folkloric medicinal use

• A plant of fertility and pregnancy – used by South African traditional healers as phytomedicine to treat ailments related to pregnancy and to facilitate labor. Orally or rectally, as a decoction, to ensure an easy delivery and a healthy child. It may facilitate expulsion of the placenta and augment uterine contractions. Roots worn as necklace for easy childbirth and fertility. Decoction used in washing newborn babies; also, an infant tonic.

• Considered an aphrodisiac, used for impotency and barrenness.

• Leaves used around wrists to bring down fever.

Scientific studies on african lily

Oxytocic / Leaves:

Studies have shown that the aequeous extract of Agapanthus africanus leaves causes smooth muscle contractions in the uterine and ileal studies. On isolated rat uterus, the leaf extract exhibited agonist effects on the uterine muscarinic receptors and promoted synthesis of prostaglandins in the estrogenized rat uterus. The study provided a pharmacologic explanation for the ethnic use of A. africanus as herbal oxytocic in prolonged labor.


Ethanolic extract of A. Africanus rhizomes showed significant antifungal activity against human pathogens–Trycchophyton mentagrophytes and Sporothrix schenekii. (3) Crude extracts of aerial parts of A. africanus were screened against eight economically important plant pathogenic fungi. Results showed sufficient in vivo antifungal activity to warrant further investigation.

Pesticide Alternative:

Invention reported on extracts and isolated substances that showed antimicrobial, especially antifungal, and bio-stimulatory efficacy and the suitability of these products as potential alternative for chemical pesticides. Extracts from aerial parts show higher efficacy compared to the soil parts of the plant.


Study suggests phytoremediation potential for petroleum.


Ornamental cultivation.

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