Eriospermum ornithogoloides

Weekly Plant of Interest

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “bi-Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’re focusing this week on a small plant of the from the Eriospermaceae family.

Eriospermum ornithogaloides (khonggoana-tsingoana in Sesotho), is a small plant that grows to between 100 & 250 mm in height at altitudes of up to 2400 m A.S.L. This unusually shaped plant is found growing in colonies on the edges of rock sheet and sparsely grassed rocky areas – often nearby or among succulent plants. Occurs from  the EC to FS.

E. ornithogaloides photographed here were observed growing just above the Scilla Walk – apparently unharmed by errant goats. It’s not often that one sees a plant growing with no stem and just a single above-ground leaf…Interesting.



E. ornithogaloides possesses a single solitary leaf which lies closely against the ground and measures approx. 35 X 25 mm. The leaf is roughly heart-shaped with red margins, sometimes fringed by hairs. The inflorescence is not often observed as it occurs separately from the leaves – on the same below ground plant. The flowers are 10 mm in diameter, with spreading outer tepals and white erect inner petals with a blue-green midvein. Flowering Oct – Dec. Uses:

Traditional Uses

Has been known to treat earache and even infertility in women of the Sesotho culture.

Conservation Status

This species has been recorded as of least concern by SANBI.

Author: Damien Coulson