Century plant, Poison bulb, Sore-eye flower.

(Boophone disticha) Sore-eye flower…

“A most rewarding bulbous plant” state all the plant books, a beautiful flowering plant that results in a tumbling seed pod that spreads the seed in its natural habitat.

This is an attractive, deciduous bulbous plant with a thick covering of dry scales above the ground. The large, round heads are sometimes on such short stems that they appear to grow directly from the bulb, almost at ground level. The colour of flowers varies from shades of pink to red and are sweetly scented.

This plant has many medicinal uses, the Bushman once used the poison for their arrows, and traditional healers use it to treat pain and wounds.  The outer covering of the bulb is applied to boils and abscesses. Fresh leaves are used to stop bleeding of wounds. The plants are known to be poisonous to cattle and sheep.

The name sore-eye flower refers to the fact that if a person is exposed to the open flowers in a confined space; it may lead to sore eyes and even to a headache.

How can something so beautiful be a pain in the eye….?????

Rietvlei 18-10-2012 310

Tania rietvlei 15-10-2012 094

Tania rietvlei 15-10-2012 097

35 thoughts on “Century plant, Poison bulb, Sore-eye flower.

  1. I was given one of these as a gift. Did not know anything about it. I planted it in a pot…and it did fine for two seasons until we got that bad drought last year. It lost all its leaves. I was devastated, but left It for a few months, watering it occasionally. Last week to my utmost joy, it started growing new healthy leaves. It is on semi shade. Should I put it in full sun? And how often does it need water? We are in North West….hot dry climate. Thank you

    • I have only ever seen these in open full sun sites. Also in areas of fairly high rainfall, with fair heat. Your climate should be warm enouh, but your watering might need to be slightly more than your average rainfall. Do remember it is a bulbous plant and will store a portion of moisture for dry times…

    • It always surprises me when they plant is given as poisonous, used by bushmen for arrow poison… and other tribes that use it for medicinal use…
      I have spent many years with a good friend, a black man who grew up in a different environment as I did, who taught me so much about what plants one can use for different ailments… yet the white mans books tell you to avoid them as they’re poisonous.. I have even used some on different occasions where the books say I’ll be in hospital, and yet they aided my ailment…
      I have a book on medicinal uses of indigenous plants… half of those one can’t believe but our fore fathers used them… wonderful..

  2. This post is especially meaningful to me today, as I had a lesson at the State University as part of my Master Gardener’s certificate. The instructor would go wild if he could see this plant. But there’s no way he would ever see it in New Jersey, right?

    • I doubt that it would have made its way there… not by export I mean… New Jersy’s weather is similar to ours, so I can’t see why it would not grow there… Naturally I think you might lack the dry bush conditions it enjoys…

    • They stand between 12 and 18 inches above the ground… when the flowers turn to seed the seed rolls along the ground like a tumbleweed spreading the seed that way… hope to capture photos of it when it turns…

  3. Love this flower bulldog – so unusual and pretty – great captures indeed… and soooo interesting that it has the medicinal properties too! Pain treatment — send it over 🙂 I promise to keep it away from my eyes. Loved this post ~ sending hugs and good wishes today xo RL

    • There are quite a few of our indigenous plants that the locals use for pain… just not sure I would use one that the bushman used for poison on their arrows though…. another good one is the Berg syringa… I’ll send you some of that rather as I have tried it and it’s not a poison….

      • yes – best keep the poison away from me I suppose! BTW ~ speaking of which ~ going in to hospital tomorrow for procedure… they will try to dislocate my hip joint under view x ray and then blow it up with steroid to see if it helps pain… after I have initial flare… so will try to be around but wanted to shout out to you so you don’t’ worry if I am absent more this week! xo

        • Well I will pray hard that it helps… and think of you all day tomorrow whilst you go through the procedure… Good luck and may God hold your hand the whole time… see you when you return… won’t worry when your absent now…

          • Thank you bulldog ~ so wonderful of you. I won’t be gone long…it’s same day procedure so home that night, but will see if I’m up for computer time…Will keep in touch ~ x

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