A most unusual & exotic flower.

I missed seeing these flowers last August, but one day while walking to the farm, it was there in all its glory in front of me.

Glory lily is one of modern medicine’s most important plants and actually facing local extinction.

Also known as Gloriosa Lily, Tiger claws or Agnishikha, meaning ‘fire at the apex’ ! Unlike most members of the Lily family, this is a vine & another unique character is that the leaves becomes the tendrils !

Before pesticides came onto the scene, the tubers of this plant were a common suicidal poison due to lethally high presence of Colchicine.

But its also a powerhouse of medicinal properties especially in Ayurveda & Unani medicine. Gloriosa superba is believed to be one of the most important herb that is exported. Collection of seeds and roots for the foreign market is causing a shortage of raw material for local drug industry in India.

Incidentally this flower was/ is the national flower of the Tamil Eelam, (probably the toxic roots were used in the ‘cyanide capsule’). The Srilankan army always raided houses that had these flowers growing in the garden to kill Eelam supporters. It is also the national plant/ flower of Zimbabwe & the State flower of Tamilnadu, India !

Some of the medicinal uses are for gout, relief from heat stroke, jaundice, irregular menstruation, scorpion bites, parasitic skin deseases etc.

Indeed a postal stamp was issued by the Indian Postal Department to commemorate this flower & also by the United States of America.

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