African lily

Family • Agapanthaceae - Agapanthus africanus Linn.

Common names

African lily (Engl.)
Lily-of-the-Nile (Engl.)

Herb with thick rhizomes. Leaves are basal, 2-ranked, linear-lanceolate, up to 50 cm long and 5 cm wide. Flowers are in umbels, 12- to 30-flowered, usually bright blue-violet, crowded at the end of a long stalk,

Usually cultivated for ornamental pot plants in the Philippines.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Steroidal saponins from the rhizomes of Agapanthus africanus (Linn) / Indian journal of chem / 2007, vol. 46, no7, pp. 1154-1158


Parts utilized
Rhizomes, leaves and roots.

Constituents and Characteristics
Cardiac, stomachic, uterotonic. oxytoxic, pectoral, expectorant, aperient, purgative, nephritic.
Saponins and sapogenins of the furostane and spirostane type, including agapanthegenin and steroid spirostan sapogenins.
Anthycyanin gives the colors to the flowers.
Different Agapanthus species are sued for similar medicinal purposes.


Leaf may cause mouth pain and ulcerations. May be irritating to the eyes and skin. Suspected but unproven hemolytic effects.

No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
• A plant of fertility and pregnancy – used by South African traditional healers as phytomedicine to treat ailments related to pregnancy and to facilitate labor. Orally or rectally, as a decoction, to ensure an easy delivery and a healthy child. It may facilitate expulsion of the placenta and augment uterine contractions. Roots worn as necklace for easy childbirth and fertility. Decoction used in washing newborn babies; also, an infant tonic.
• Considered an aphrodisiac, used for impotency and barrenness.
• Leaves used around wrists to bring down fever.

Study Findings
• Oxytocic: Studies have shown that the aequeous extract of Agapanthus africanus leaves causes smooth muscle contractions in the uterine and ileal studies. On isolated rat uterus, the leaf extract exhibited agonist effects on the uterine muscarinic receptors and promoted synthesis of prostaglandins in the estrogenized rat uterus. The study provided a pharmacologic explanation for the ethnic use of A. africanus as herbal oxytocic in prolonged labor.
• Antifungal: Ethanolic extract of A. Africanus rhizomes showed significant antifungal activity against human pathogens–Trycchophyton mentagrophytes and Sporothrix schenekii.

Ornamental cultivation.