Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “bi-Weekly Plant of Interest”. This week we’ll be looking at a member of a rather large family – Hypoxidaceae (Star-flower).
Hypoxis costata (Small Yellow Star/African Potatoe in English, Geel-sterretjie/Afrika Patat in Afrikaans and Tapole in Sesotho) is a small perennial that obtains a height of around 150mm and grows best in moist rocky areas near kloofs and seepages at altitudes of up to 2400m A.S.L. The genus Hypoxis is cosmopolitan, occurring in Africa; North and South America; parts of Asia and Australia.
The genus name Hypoxis is derived from the Greek Hypo (below) and oxys (sharp-pointed – in reference to the shape of the fruit) and is characterised by plants with small yellow, star-shaped flowers. The species name costata means lines/ rib-like ridges, in reference to the venation of the leaves.
The leaves of this species are relatively broad and measure 40mm wide by approx 150-170mm long. As the species name implies, the leaves are conspicuously ribbed. Leaves are densely hairy and produced with flowers. The flowers (30-40mm) are butter- canary yellow and are borne aloft a stalk as long as the leaves. Flowering occurs from Oct-Jan. Uses:
Used as a charm to protect against lightning strikes. Hypoxis are tuberous and the corms; dark brown-black externally and yellow internally, are used for muti. Common ailments treated include dizziness; mental illness; bladder problems; weakness; burns; testicular cancer, and also provide the immune system with a general “boost”. Much research is on-going regarding the pharmacological effects of various species of the genus. Because of overharvesting for their use as muti-plants, several species of Hypoxis are under threat.
Hypoxis flowers are short-lived and are pollinated by solitary insects and honey bees, their pollen appearing yellow in the translucent pollen-sacks of bees in flight.
- costata is listed as of Least Concern by SANBI.
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Click here for more information on the Clarens Village Nature Reserve
Head ranger: Clarens Village Nature Reserve