P1000544Gloriosa superba, alias juju lily

Toxic from tuber to tendril. Lethal for man and animal. Fought as a weed in Australia. Sought for arrow poison in Nigeria. Almost extinct in India due to medicinal use.
But what a ravishing plant. The downward facing buds develop into upright ballerina’s, meanwhile changing from pale green to yellow and orange, only to die in a dramatic dark red. The leaves evolve into tendrils that grip anything in order to climb and spread. It is almost magical. No wonder the West-Africans gave it the proud nickname ‘juju’, meaning witchcraft.

August 2014, by Karolien Bais



Plants can be equally striking for their smell or stench, their stubbornness or benevolence, their secrecy or exuberance. Whatever their features, they can make my day.
Here are some of my doozies. The list might well become very long.

Couroupita guianensis, alias cannonball tree

Amherstia nobilis, alias Pride of Burma

Dendrobium crumenatum, alias pigeon orchid

Gloriosa superba, alias juju lily

Eucharis grandiflora, alias Amazon lily

Murraya koenigii, alias curry leaf

Scadoxus multiflorus, alias blood lily

Rothmannia longiflora, alias ivory trumpet

Furcraea selloa, alias false agave

Tacca chantrieri, alias bat flower

Bauhinia pottsii, alias orchid tree