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Hypoxis hemerocallidea

   (Family: Hypoxidaceae)
   
Afrikaans: Sterblom, Gifbol English: Star flower, Yellow star  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Shrub
Height: 0.3m
Spread: 0.8m
Special properties:
  Drought Resistant (heavy)
  Frost Tolerant (heavy)
  Has Medicinal Uses
Rarity Status:
Common
   
Preferred rainfall: Summer
Preferred position:
Full Sun
Biome: Grassland
Toxicity:  
  Contains toxic substances in the raw form.
 
Flowering time EDIT
x                   x x
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
 
Yellow
Flower shape
 
  Polinator
  Bees and other pollinators.
  Flower info
  The flowers are carried on 5 or 6 slender erect inflorescences, each carrying 5–13 bright yellow, star-shaped flowers with 6 tepals. Six free stamens arise from the base of the tepals with prominent anthers. The style is short and fat, carrying the robust stigma. The flowers are short-lived and close at midday. Flowers open sequentially from the base to the apex. Usually 1–3 flowers are open at the same time, thus encouraging cross-pollination.
 
 
Leaf shape EDIT
Leaf margin
Leaf texture Hairy
 
 
Leaf size 0400mm
  Leaf info EDIT
  Deciduous
  Straplike leaves up to 400 mm long, neatly arranged one above the other in 3 ranks, broad, stiff and arching outwards with prominent ribs and tapering towards the tips.
 
 
 
 
Seed colour
Black
  Seed info EDIT
  Seeds are hard, black, smooth and glossy.
 
 
Description EDIT
It is a beautiful tuberous perennial, synonymous with the grasslands, where its yellow star-like flowers herald the arrival of spring and summer rains.

The star flower is a very attractive, hardy garden plant.
It is excellent for a rockery or as a border to flower beds, but is also suitable for container planting.
Growing EDIT
The star flower is not easily propagated from seed, since the seeds remain dormant for about one year after flowering.
Corm division is a more rapid and successful method of propagating the plants.

It is drought-tolerant, frost-resistant, very easy to grow and an asset to any garden. It grows well in full sun in well-drained soil.
Distribution EDIT
Occurs in open grassland and woodland and is widespread in South Africa in the eastern summer rainfall provinces (Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Limpopo). It also occurs in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.
History EDIT
Uses EDIT
African potato (in the misapplied sense) has been used as a traditional medicine for centuries. It is a household name in South Africa and probably the best known muti plant in the country. The African potato has even been recommended by a former Minister of Health for inclusion in the daily diet of HIV patients.

Today it is an alleged component of numerous over-the-counter medicinal preparations. In a study on the plants sold at muti markets in the Eastern Cape, Hypoxis hemerocallidea was the most-traded plant.

The tuberous rootstock is traditionally used to treat a wide variety of ailments. Weak infusions and decoctions of the corm are used as a strengthening tonic and during convalescence, and against tuberculosis and cancer. It is also used for prostate hypertrophy, urinary tract infections, testicular tumors, as a laxative and to expel intestinal worms. Anxiety, palpitations, depression and rheumatoid arthritis are further ailments treated with the plant.

Hypoxis hemerocallidea is used to build up the immune system of patients suffering from cancer and HIV. A phytochemical derived from Hypoxis is hypoxoside. This is an inactive compound which is converted to rooperol, which has potent pharmacological properties relevant to cancer, inflammations and HIV. Extracts from H. hemerocallidea are also effective in the treatment of the urinary system.

Another compound isolated in Hypoxis is sitosterol or phytosterol, which is an immuno-enhancer. Sitosterols are found in many green plants, and this is the main component of the commercial product ‘Moducare'. However, the plant is no longer used to manufacture Moducare capsules. Pine oil and soya oil extracts are now used instead.

The plant and its derivatives are sold in many muti markets, and commercial products are widely available. However Hypoxis also contains toxic substances in the raw form, and has not been registered with the Medical Control Council for that reason. Warning: The raw products can be toxic and must be used with caution. It is recommended to use a shelf product as a safe alternative.
Ecology EDIT
Fire-tolerant, and occurs widely in grassland where fire is part of the ecological regime. It is dormant during the fire season and resprouts after fire. The fibres protect the corm against fire damage. Fire promotes the growth of new leaves. Seeds are also stimulated to germinate by fire.

The flowers are visited by bees and other pollinators. It is not known to be favoured as food by browsing herbivores.
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