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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Monocots
Ordo: Liliales

Familia: Colchicaceae
Tribus: Colchiceae
Genus: Gloriosa
Overview of species (11)

G. baudii – G. carsonii – G. flavovirens – G. lindenii – G. littonioides – G. modesta – G. revoilii – G. rigidifolia – G. sessiliflora – G. simplex – G. superba

Gloriosa L., Sp. Pl. 1: 305. 1753; Gen. Pl., ed. 5: 144. 1754.

Lectotype species (designated by Hitchcock, Prop. Brit. Bot. 145. Aug. 1929): Gloriosa superba L. (1753)


Clinostylis Hochst, Flora 27: 26. 1844.
Eugone Salisb, Prodr. Stirp. Chap. Allerton: 238. 1796.
Littonia Hook, Bot. Mag. 79: t. 4723. 1853.
Mendoni Adans, Fam. Pl. 2: 48. 1763.
Methonica Gagnebin, Acta Helv. Phys.-Math. 2: 61. 1755

Native distribution areas:

East Tropical Africa
Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda.
Northeast Tropical Africa
Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan.
South Tropical Africa
Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Southern Africa
Botswana, Cape Provinces, Caprivi Strip, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Namibia, Northern Provinces, Swaziland.
West Tropical Africa
Benin, Burkina, Gambia, The, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo.
West-Central Tropical Africa
Burundi, Cabinda, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gulf of Guinea Islands, Rwanda, Zaire.
Western Indian Ocean
Madagascar, Seychelles.
Arabian Peninsula
China South-Central.
Indian Subcontinent
Assam, Bangladesh, East Himalaya, India, Laccadive Islands, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Himalaya.
Andaman Islands, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam.
Borneo, Jawa, Lesser Sunda Islands, Malaya, Sulawesi, Sumatera.
Southwestern Pacific
Santa Cruz Isle.

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus I: 305. Reference page. 
Linnaeus, C. 1754. Genera Plantarum, ed. 5: 144. Reference page. 

Additional references

Vinnersten, A. & Manning, J.C. 2007. A new classification of Colchicaceae. Taxon 56(1): 171–178. Wiley JSTOR Reference page. 


Govaerts, R. et al. 2019. Gloriosa in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2019 October 7. Reference page. 
Govaerts, R. et al. 2019. Gloriosa in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2019 October 7. Reference page. 
International Plant Names Index. 2019. Gloriosa. Published online. Accessed: 7 October 2019.
The Plant List 2013. Gloriosa in The Plant List Version 1.1. Published online. Accessed: 2019 October 7.
Tropicos.org 2019. Gloriosa. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 7 October 2019.

Vernacular names

العربية: زهرة غلوريوسا
বাংলা: উলটচণ্ডাল
فارسی: گلوریوسا (سرده)
suomi: Keijunliljat
हिन्दी: करी हरी
Bahasa Indonesia: Kembang sungsang
italiano: Glorioza
日本語: グロリオサ
मराठी: कळलावी
русский: Глориоза
svenska: Klängliljesläktet
தமிழ்: காந்தள் (பேரினம்)
తెలుగు: గ్లోరియోసా
اردو: گلوری للی
中文: 嘉兰属
中文(简体): 嘉兰属

Gloriosa is a genus of 12 species in the plant family Colchicaceae, and includes the formerly recognised genus Littonia. They are native in tropical and southern Africa to Asia, and naturalised in Australia and the Pacific as well as being widely cultivated.[2] The most common English names are flame lily, fire lily, gloriosa lily, glory lily, superb lily, climbing lily, and creeping lily.[3][4]
The leaf tips are modified to form tendrils

They are tender, tuberous rooted deciduous perennials, adapted to summer rainfall with a dormant dry season. All parts of the plant contain colchicine and related alkaloids and are therefore dangerously toxic if ingested, and contact with the stems and leaves can cause skin irritation. Various preparations of the plant are used in traditional medicines for a variety of complaints in both Africa and India. Plants have leaf tip tendrils.


Gloriosa are herbaceous perennials that climb or scramble over other plants with the aid of tendrils at the ends of their leaves and can reach 3 meters in height. They have showy flowers, many with distinctive and pronouncedly reflexed petals, like a Turk's cap lily, ranging in colour from a greenish-yellow through yellow, orange, red and sometimes even a deep pinkish-red.

"Scandent herbs, the rootstock a horizontal rhizome, the stem leafy, the leaves spirally arranged or subopposite, the upper ones with cirrhose tips; flowers solitary, large, boner on long, spreading pedicels, actinomorphic, hermaphrodite; perianth segments 6, free, lanceolate, keeled within at base, long-persistent; stamens 6, hypogynous, the anthers extrorse, medifixed and versatile, opening by longitudinal slits; ovary superior, 3-celled, the carpels cohering only by their inner margins, the ovules numerous, the style deflected at base and projecting from the flower more or less horizontally; fruit a loculicidal capsule with many seeds"[2]

As of October 2018, the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families accepted 11 species of Gloriosa, ignoring hybrids, varieties and cultivars. Many other names are currently rejected as synonyms or unresolved for lack of sufficient data.[5]

Gloriosa baudii (A.Terracc.) Chiov. - Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya
Gloriosa carsonii Baker - C + E + S Africa
Gloriosa flavovirens (Dammer) J.C.Manning & Vinn. - Angola
Gloriosa lindenii (Baker) J.C.Manning & Vinn. - C + SE Africa
Gloriosa littonioides (Welw. ex Baker) J.C.Manning & Vinn. - C + SC Africa
Gloriosa modesta (Hook.) J.C.Manning & Vinn. - southern Africa
Gloriosa revoilii (Franch.) J.C.Manning & Vinn. - NE Africa, Yemen
Gloriosa rigidifolia (Bredell) J.C.Manning & Vinn. - Limpopo
Gloriosa sessiliflora Nordal & Bingham - Angola, Zambia, Caprivi
Gloriosa simplex L. - sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar
Gloriosa superba L. - sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, Seychelles, Indian Subcontinent, SE Asia

G. superba
Gloriosa modesta

The genus is widely distributed in Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and from the Indian subcontinent to Malesia.[1] Gloriosa superba in particular is widely naturalized. In Australia, "scattered naturalized populations exist in the understorey of coastal dry sclerophyll forest and sand dune vegetation throughout south-east Queensland and New South Wales".[6] It is considered a rampant and dangerous invasive weed in Australia, dominating the coastal dunes at the expense of native species and leading to deaths of native animals and birds when ingested.

In India, Gloriosa is distributed in the Western Ghats but the density is rapidly decreasing due to excessive uprooting by herbal medicine producers.[citation needed]

"Propagation generally occurs from seeds, although mature plants can be divided and grown from tubers. The hard seeds can remain dormant for 6-9 months."[6] Growth stops if temperatures are of the order of 15°C and the dies when subjected to 12°C during this time. La Gloriosa is an extremely fragile and delicate flower, tough to cultivate.[citation needed]

All parts of Gloriosa contain colchicine, the roots and seeds are especially rich. The lethal dose of colchicine is about 6 mg/kg,[7] and Gloriosa superba has been used as a means of committing suicide.[8]

Gloriosa superba is the national flower of Zimbabwe (where it is a protected plant). A diamond brooch in the shape of the flame lily was a gift from Southern Rhodesia (modern day Zimbabwe) to Queen Elizabeth II on a visit in 1947 while she was still the crown princess.[9] It is also the state flower of Tamil Nadu state in India.[10] It is also considered the national flower of Tamil Eelam, a former de-facto inside Republic of Sri Lanka.[11]

"Gloriosa". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2018-10-02.
Smith, Albert C. 1979. Flora Vitiensis nova: A new flora of Fiji (Spermatophytes only). Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden, Lawai, Kauai, Hawaii. 1:141-142 in Biodiversity Heritage Library
"Gloriosa". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 30 July 2022.
"Floridata". floridata.com. Retrieved 2022-07-30.
"Search for Gloriosa". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2018-10-02.
Csurhes, S., Edwards, R. 1998. Potential environmental weeds in Australia: Candidate species for preventative control. Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia, Canberra. pp. 164-165 pdf Archived 2007-10-10 at the Wayback Machine
Martindale - the Extra Pharmacopoeia
Allender, WJ (1982) J. Forensic Sci. 27: 944-947.
Royal Collection http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/
"About Tamil Nadu | Tamil Nadu Government Portal".

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