Kirstenbosch Botanical Biennale 2013

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Kirstenbosch | Cape Town | 2013 | Bronze 

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What strikes me most about Amaryllidaceae plants are their fleshy roots and scaly bulbs, some of which grow up to the size of a rugby ball. The beautiful flowers, which they produce annually, make many of them garden favourites (Agapanthus praecox and Scadoxus puniceus), while others are found in open grasslands (Boophone disticha) or sandy flats (Brunsvigia orientalis), where their dry inflorescences roll about in the wind, distributing the seeds. However, it is the plants’ traditional medicinal value that makes them particularly fascinating. Both Scadoxus puniceus and Agapanthus praecox are used during pregnancy to ensure a safe and easy delivery. Although highly toxic, the bulb scales of Boophone disticha are used as a dressing after circumcision and are also believed to relieve hysteria and insomnia when sleeping on a mattress filled with scales. (van Wyk, B-E; van Oudtshoorn, B; Gericke, N. 2009. Medicinal Plants of South Africa.)

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© Willie Schlechter 2019

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