Hypoxis 1 Hypoxis 2

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.

Conservation status

  1. costata is listed as of Least Concern by SANBI.

Click here for more information on plants in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve

Click here for more information on the Clarens Village Nature Reserve


Damien1-100x100Article and photography by Damien Coulson

Head ranger: Clarens Village Nature Reserve


Author: Damien Coulson