Chlorophytum

Chlorophytum Ker Gawl. is a genus of around 150 species native to Asia-Tropical, Africa, Australasia and Asia-Temperate, but mainly to tropical regions of Africa and Asia. It is considered by some to belong to the Anthericaceae family but the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group II, 2003 suggests that family be included in the Agavaceae family or optionally in the Asparagaceae family. Plants are perennial with stiff or swollen roots. Rhizomes are often short and inconspicuous, but sometimes thick and elongate. Leaves are mostly in a rosette or in two ranks. The inflorescence is a raceme and the white flowers have jointed pedicels. Chlorophytum comosum, a native of South Africa known as the Spider Plant is a very popular houseplant.


Chlorophytum blepharophyllum Schweinf. ex Baker is native from West through Central, East and Southern Africa. Plants grow either singularly or in clumps to approximately 50 cm tall from a small rhizome that is covered in the remains of old leaf bases. Roots are spongy with swellings towards the tips, leaves linear-lanceolate held prostrate to erect, up to 60 cm long and the inflorescence is erect, usually unbranched. Flowers are small, yellowish-brown to brownish-green and the seed capsule obovoid, 3-angled, up to 10 mm long. Photos by Nicholas Wightman taken north of Lusaka, Zambia.

Chlorophytum blepharophyllum, Nicholas WightmanChlorophytum blepharophyllum, Nicholas Wightman

Chlorophytum bowkeri Baker is found in damp grassland from the Eastern Cape of South Africa to Zimbabwe. It grows from 80-160 cm high, often forming colonies. Leaves are channeled and lanceolate and often undulate and the white short lived flowers in small clusters are in an unbranched raceme. Photos taken in the Eastern Cape January 2010 by Mary Sue Ittner illustrate the leaves, flowers, seed pods and bracts.

Chlorophytum bowkeri leaves, Mary Sue IttnerChlorophytum bowkeri, Mary Sue IttnerChlorophytum bowkeri, Mary Sue IttnerChlorophytum bowkeri bracts, Mary Sue Ittner

Chlorophytum brachystachyum Baker is native from West through Central, East and Southern Africa. Plants are clumped growing 30 to 45 cm tall from a short vertical rhizome with roots spongy with swellings towards the tips. Leaves are oblong- lanceolate, in a rosette, up to 40 cm long with ciliate margins. The inflorescence is erect usually unbranched, dense. Flowers are small, whitish and the seed capsule globose, 3-angled, up to 5 mm long. Photos by Nicholas Wightman taken in Eastern Province, Zambia.

Chlorophytum brachystachyum, Nicholas WightmanChlorophytum brachystachyum, Nicholas Wightman

Chlorophytum comosum (Thunb.) Jacques is native to southern and tropical Africa. Growing from 15-70 cm high, it has small rhizomes and roots often with elongated tubers. Leaves are in a basal rosette, lanceolate and glabrous and flowers are white with stamens as long or slightly longer than the perianth. Photos taken January 2010 at Glen Avon by Mary Sue Ittner of a plant growing in the rocks.

Chlorophytum comosum, Glen Avon, Mary Sue IttnerChlorophytum comosum, Glen Avon, Mary Sue Ittner

Chlorophytum crassinerve (Baker) Oberm., syn. Anthericum crassinerve, is a Northern Cape South African species growing to 40 cm that flowers August to October. Photos taken by Cameron McMaster near Carolusberg in Namaqualand August 2011.

Chlorophytum crassinerve, Carolusberg, Cameron McMasterChlorophytum crassinerve, Carolusberg, Cameron McMaster

Chlorophytum crispum (Thunb.) Baker is a wide spread South African species that occurs from the Little Karoo to the Eastern Cape where it grows on stony flats, often in the shade of shrubs and trees. Growing up to 50 cm, it has leaves in a rosette with margins that are wavy or crisped with short hairs. The much branched raceme of white flowers are produced over a long time, from spring to autumn. Photos from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok.

Chlorophytum crispum, Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-VlokChlorophytum crispum, Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok

Chlorophytum macrophyllum (A.Rich.) Asch. is native from West Africa Central, East and Southern Africa. Plants are large, usually clumped, growing to 90 cm tall from a short rhizome. Roots are thick with swellings towards the tips. Leaves are narrowly to broadly lanceolate, in a rosette, up to 90 cm long. The inflorescence is erect, unbranched, dense. Flowers are white and the seed capsule is shallowly deltoid, up to 8 mm long. Photos by Nicholas Wightman taken in Eastern Province, Zambia.

Chlorophytum clarae, Nicholas WightmanChlorophytum clarae, Nicholas Wightman

Chlorophytum pusillum Schweinf. ex Baker is native from West through Central, East and Southern Africa. Plants are small, up to 3 cm tall growing either singularly or in patches from an indistinct rhizome. Roots are short, spongy with elongated tubers. Leaves are in a rosette, pressed flat to the ground, 1-4, oblanceolate with crisped margins. The inflorescence is unbranched, short and dense and the flowers white. Seed capsules are shallowly deltoid, approximately 4 mm long. Photos by Nicholas Wightman taken in the Munali Hills in Southern Province, Zambia.

Chlorophytum pusillum, Nicholas WightmanChlorophytum pusillum, Nicholas Wightman

Chlorophytum rubribracteatum (De Wild.) Kativu is native from Central through East and Southern Africa. Plants are grass-like, up to 45 cm tall growing from a short horizontal rhizome. Roots are slender with swellings towards the tips. The leaves are linear, in 2 rows, up to 50 cm with slightly ciliate margins. The inflorescence is unbranched with individual flowers sparsely arranged. Flowers are white to pinkish-white and seed capsules shallowly deltoid, approximately 7 mm long. Photos by Nicholas Wightman taken in Lilayi, Zambia.

Chlorophytum rubribracteatum, Nicholas WightmanChlorophytum rubribracteatum, Nicholas Wightman

Chlorophytum saundersiae (Baker) Nordal, syn. Anthericum saundersiae, is native to the Eastern Cape of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, and Swaziland, where it grows on the coastal forest floor and in grassland. Photo from Alessandro Marinello of a plants grown from seed from Silverhill Seeds and blooming in about a year from seed.

Chlorophytum saundersiae, Alessandro Marinello

Chlorophytum sp. is a photo of an unidentified species taken by Mary Sue Ittner in the Cederberg area of the Northwest Cape, South Africa, September 2006.

Chlorophytum sp., Cederberg, Mary Sue Ittner

Chlorophytum subpetiolatum (Baker) Kativu is native from Ethiopia south through Central, East and Southern Africa. Plants are highly variable, growing singularly or in clumps from a thick rhizome covered in the fibrous remains of old leaf bases. Roots are spongy, swollen at the base and tapering towards the tips. Leaves are in 2 rows, linear-lanceolate to lanceolate, up to 70 cm long with ciliate or scabrid margins. The inflorescence is unbranched, dense, up to 35 cm long with white flowers 1 to 3 per node. The seed capsule is rounded to deltoid. Photos by Nicholas Wightman taken in Lilayi, Zambia.

Chlorophytum subpetiolatum, Nicholas WightmanChlorophytum subpetiolatum, Nicholas WightmanChlorophytum subpetiolatum, Nicholas Wightman

Chlorophytum undulatum ( Jacq. ) Oberm. is a rhizomatous geophyte to 50 cm with slender roots sometimes with short tubers. Leaves are linear or lanceolate, usually in a rosette, straight or crisped. Flowers are white with dark keels in an unbranched raceme. Plants grows on clay flats and slopes and in rocky places in South Africa from Namaqualand to the Karoo and Stellenbosch, flowering July to October, late winter to early spring. Photos taken by Mary Sue Ittner of what she believes is this species in the BokkeveldPlateau, in the Cederberg area of the northwest Cape, and near Calvinia, September 2006. The last photo is from the book Plants of the Klein Karoo courtesy of Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok. The authors note that this species only flowers well in good rain years.

Chlorophytum undulatum, Bokkeveld, Mary Sue IttnerChlorophytum undulatum, Bokkeveld, Mary Sue IttnerChlorophytum undulatum, Bokkeveld, Mary Sue IttnerChlorophytum undulatum, Calvinia, Mary Sue IttnerChlorophytum undulatum, Calvinia, Mary Sue IttnerChlorophytum undulatum, Jan and Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok

Return to the PBS wiki Photographs And Information page
Page last modified on February 02, 2018, at 08:18 AM