The Temperate Database is in the process of being updated, with new records being added and old ones being checked and brought up to date where necessary. This record has not yet been checked and updated.
Common Name: Bowstring Hemp
Sanseviera aethiopica is a Evergreen Perennial up to 0.60 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of materials.
Requires a very sunny position in a very well-drained sandy gritty loam[
] and a pH between 6 and 7[
This species is not very frost hardy, though it can succeed outdoors in the mildest parts of the country if it is given a selected sunny position[
]. Plants must be kept dry after they have flowered[
There is a lot of confusion between this species, S. roxburghiana. Schult. from India and S. zeylanica. (L.)Willd. from Sri Lanka[
]. It is most likely that they all have similar uses, though none of them are likely to be very hardy in Britain.
The rhizome is a source of water[
]. This is presumably of some use in the arid areas of its native range, but of rather limited benefit in Britain[
A high quality fibre is obtained from the leaves. It is used for making sails and paper[
Seed - we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a warm greenhouse in mid spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least a couple of years in a greenhouse before trying any of them outdoors.
Division of suckers as growth commences in the spring.
Leaf-cuttings, 7cm long placed in sand in a frame[
]. The leaf is cut into sections, the cut surfaces allowed to dry for a few hours, and the sections then placed in pots in a warm light frame, but with shelter from direct sunlight. Rooting and new growth should take place within a month.