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Classification System: APG IV

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

Familia: Asparagaceae
Subfamilia: Nolinoideae
Tribus: Dracaeneae
Genus: Sansevieria
Sectiones: S. sect. Cephalantha – S. sect. Dracomima – S. sect. Sansevieria
Overview of species

S. aethiopica – S. arborescens – S. ascendens – S. aubrytiana – S. bacularis – S. bagamoyensis – S. ballyi – S. bella – S. braunii – S. burdettii – S. burmanica – S. canaliculata – S. caulescens – S. conduplicata – S. concinna – S. conspicua – S. cylindrica – S. dawei – S. dhofarica – S. dooneri – S. downsii – S. dumetescens – S. ebracteata – S. ehrenbergii – S. eilensis – S. erythraeae – S. fasciata – S. fischeri – S. formosa – S. forskaoliana – S. francisii – S. frequens – S. gracilis – S. gracillima – S. hallii – S. hargeisana – S. humiflora – S. hyacinthoides – S. itumei – S. kirkii – S. liberica – S. lineata – S. longiflora – S. longistyla – S. lunatifolia – S. masoniana – S. metallica – S. newtoniana – S. nilotica – S. nitida – S. parva – S. patens – S. pearsonii – S. pedicellata – S. perrotii – S. pfisteri – S. phillipsiae – S. pinguicula – S. powellii – S. powysii – S. raffillii – S. roxburghiana – S. sambiranensis – S. scimitariformis – S. senegambica – S. sinus-simiorum – S. sordida – S. stuckyi – S. subspicata – S. subtilis – S. suffruticosa – S. trifasciata – S. varians – S. volkensii – S. zeylanica


Sansevieria Thunb. (1794), nom. cons.

Type species: Sansevieria thyrsiflora Thunb., nom. illeg.


Acyntha Medik., Theodora 76. 1786. nom. rej.
Salmia Cav., Icon. 3: 24 (1795)
Cordyline Adans., Fam. 2: 54, 543. Jul-Aug 1763, nom. rej. vs. Cordyline Commerson ex R.Br. (1810).
Sansevera Stokes, Bot. Mat. Med. 2: 260. 1812.
Sanseverina Thunb., Fl. Cap. 2: 322. 1817.
Sanseverinia Petagna, Inst. Bot. 3: 643. 1787. nom. rej.

Note: This genus could be best subsumed into an expanded Dracaena, but all of the above species combinations need to be checked for equivalence and the wider acceptance of this synonymy has yet to gain full consensus. In addition, Christenhusz et al. (2018) have made many of the necessary combinations in Dracaena, but those published after 2017 (IPNI, 2021) are left unplaced in WCSP (2021), for example Sansevieria conduplicata.

Thunb. 1794. Prodr. Pl. Cap. 1(11): 65.
Christenhusz, M.J.M., Fay, M.F. & Byng, J.W. (eds). 2018. The Global Flora, Vol. 4: Special Edition, GLOVAP Nomenclature Part 1. Plant Gateway Ltd., Bradford. ISBN 978-0-9929993-5-3 PDFReference page.
Cole, T.C. & Forrest, T. 2019. Sansevieria conduplicata TC Cole & TG Forrest (Dracaenaceae), a New Species of Sansevieria in the North of Uganda. Cactus and Succulent Journal 91(2): 147-151. DOI: 10.2985/015.091.0208
Takawira-Nyenya, R., Mucina, L, Cardinal-McTeague, W.M. & Thiele, K.R. 2018. Sansevieria (Asparagaceae, Nolinoideae) is a herbaceous clade within Dracaena: inference from non-coding plastid and nuclear DNA sequence data. Phytotaxa 376(6): 254–276. DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.376.6.2 Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2018. Sansevieria in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2018 Oct. 13. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Sansevieria. Published online. Accessed: Jan. 18 2021. 2020. Sansevieria. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2020 Aug. 26.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Sansevieria in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service.

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Bogenhanf
English: Mother-in-law's Tongue, Devil's Tongue, Jinn's Tongue, Bow String Hemp, Snake Plant and Snake Tongue.
suomi: Anopinkielet
français: Sansevieria
hrvatski: Sansevieria
magyar: Fácánlevél
Bahasa, Indonesia: Lidah mertua
italiano: Sansevieria
Bahasa Melayu: Pokok Lidah Jin
norsk: Bajonettplanter
svenska: Bajonettliljesläktet

Sansevieria is a historically recognized genus of flowering plants, native to Africa, notably Madagascar, and southern Asia, now included in the genus Dracaena on the basis of molecular phylogenetic studies.[1][2][3] Common names for the 70 or so species formerly placed in the genus include mother-in-law's tongue, devil's tongue, jinn's tongue, bow string hemp, snake plant and snake tongue.[4] In the APG III classification system, Dracaena is placed in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Nolinoideae (formerly the family Ruscaceae).[5] It has also been placed in the former family Dracaenaceae.

There is great variation within the species formerly placed in the genus; they range from succulent desert plants such as Dracaena pinguicula to thinner leafed tropical plants such as Dracaena trifasciata. Plants often form dense clumps from a spreading rhizome or stolons.[6][7]

The leaves of former Sansevieria species are typically arranged in a rosette around the growing point, although some species are distichous. There is a great variation in foliage form. All former species can be divided into one of two basic categories based on their leaves: hard leaved and soft-leaved species. Typically, hard-leaved species originate from arid climates, while soft-leaved species originate from tropical and subtropical regions.[6] Hard leaved species have a number of adaptations for surviving dry regions. These include thick, succulent leaves for storing water and thick leaf cuticles for reducing moisture loss. These leaves may be cylindrical to reduce surface area and are generally shorter than those of their soft leafed tropical counterparts, which are wide and strap-like.[6]

The flowers of former Sansevieria species are usually greenish-white, also rose, lilac-red, brownish, produced on a simple or branched raceme. The fruit is a red or orange berry. In nature, they are pollinated by moths, but both flowering and fruiting are erratic and few seeds are produced.[6][7] The raceme is derived from the apical meristem, and a flowered shoot will no longer produce new leaves. Unlike plants such as agave which die after flowering, a bloomed shoot will simply cease to produce new leaves. The flowered shoot continues to grow by producing plantlets via its rhizomes or stolons.

The genus name Sansevieria honors Italian scientist and inventor Raimondo di Sangro (1710–1771), Prince of San Severo.[8][9] The genus was originally named Sanseverinia by Vincenzo Petagna in 1787,[10] to honor his patron Pietro Antonio Sanseverino, Count of Chiaromonte (1724–1771), in whose garden Petagna had seen the plant.[11] In 1794, Carl Peter Thunberg used the name Sansevieria.[10][12] It is not clear whether Thunberg's name was intended to be new, or was a typographical error for Petagna's name.[11] "Sansevieria Thunb." is a conserved name in the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants, notwithstanding arguments that the author should be given as Petagna.[11][13] The spellings "Sanseveria" and "Sanseviera" are commonly seen as well, the confusion deriving from alternate spellings of the Italian place name.

Molecular phylogenetic studies showed that Sansevieria was nested within Dracaena, rendering the latter paraphyletic unless Dracaena was expanded to include the species formerly placed in Sansevieria.[3]

As of 2015, the genus was subdivided into three sections, one of which was further subdivided into three subsections:[14]

sect. Sansevieria
subsect. Sansevieria
subsect. Hastifolia
subsect. Solonifera
sect. Dracomima
sect. Cephalantha

Selected former species

Sansevieria arborescens Cornu ex Gérôme & Labroy = Dracaena arborescens (Cornu ex Gérôme & Labroy) Byng & Christenh.
Sansevieria bagamoyensis Carrière = Dracaena bagamoyensis (N.E.Br.) Byng & Christenh.
Sansevieria ballyi = Dracaena ballyi
Sansevieria carnea Andrews = Reineckea carnea (Andrews) Kunth
Sansevieria cylindrica Bojer ex Hook. = Dracaena angolensis (Welw. ex Carrière) Byng & Christenh.
Sansevieria ehrenbergii Schweinf. ex Baker = Dracaena hanningtonii Baker
Sansevieria eilensis Chahin. = Dracaena eilensis (Chahin.) Byng & Christenh.
Sansevieria fischeri Baker = Dracaena fischeri
Sansevieria kirkii Baker = Dracaena pethera Byng & Christenh.
Sansevieria masoniana Chahin = Dracaena masoniana (Chahin.) Byng & Christenh.
Sansevieria pinguicula P.R.O.Bally = Dracaena pinguicula (P.R.O.Bally) Byng & Christenh.
Sansevieria stuckyi God.-Leb. ex Gérôme & Labroy = Dracaena stuckyi (God.-Leb.) Byng & Christenh.
Sansevieria suffruticosa N.E.Br. = Dracaena suffruticosa (N.E.Br.) Byng & Christenh.
Sansevieria trifasciata Prain = Dracaena trifasciata (Prain) Mabb.

Rope and traditional uses

In Africa, the leaves of former Sansevieria species are used for fiber production;[15] in some species, e.g. Dracaena hanningtonii, the plant's sap has antiseptic qualities, and the leaves are used for bandages in traditional first aid.[16]
Ornamental purposes
A variegated cultivar of Dracaena trifasciata (namely 'Laurentii'), the most common species in cultivation

Several former Sansevieria species are popular houseplants in temperate regions, with Dracaena trifasciata the most widely sold; numerous cultivars are available. In China, the plant is usually kept potted in a pot often ornamented with dragons and phoenixes.[17] Growth is comparatively slow and the plant will last for many years. There are two main varieties: wild type sansevierias have stiff, erect, scattered, lance-shaped leaves while the bird's nest sansevierias grow in rosettes. As houseplants, sansevierias thrive on warmth and bright light, but will also tolerate shade. They can rot from over-watering, so it is important that they are potted in well-drained soil, and not over-watered. They need to be re-potted or split at the root from time to time because they will sometimes grow so large that they break the pot they are growing in.

In Korea, potted sansevierias are commonly presented as a gift during opening ceremonies of businesses or other auspicious events. In Barbados, sansevieria is also popularly referred to as the "money plant", with the belief that the person having it will always have money. The belief seems to be based on an association of the color (green) with the US bills.

Other former Sansevieria species are less common in cultivation. Another species is Sansevieria cylindrica, which has leaves which look quite different from D. trifasciata, but is equally tough.[18]

Plants can be propagated by seed, leaf-cutting, and division. Seeds are rarely used, as plants can normally be grown much faster from cuttings or divisions. As many cultivars are periclinal chimeras, they do not come true to type from leaf cuttings, and therefore must be propagated by rhizome division to retain the variegation.[19]
Scenery in film and television

Sansevierias have frequently been used as a set decoration in many films and TV shows, both in Hollywood and internationally, since at least the 1930s, including A Serbian Film, Being John Malkovich, Blue Velvet, Duck Soup, Groundhog Day, Homegrown, The Paper, and These Final Hours.
Air purification

According to a NASA Clean Air Study, along with other plants such as golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum) and corn plant (Dracaena fragrans), Dracaena trifasciata is capable of purifying air by removing some pollutants such as formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.[20] Sansevierias use the crassulacean acid metabolism process, which absorbs carbon dioxide at night, although oxygen is released during daylight. Nighttime absorption of CO2 purportedly makes them especially suitable bedroom plants. However, since the leaves are potentially poisonous if ingested, they are not usually recommended for children's bedrooms.
Feng shui

According to feng shui, because the leaves of sansevierias grow upwards, the plants can be used for feng shui purposes.[21][22] Some believe that having sansevierias near children helps reduce coarseness, although care must be taken to ensure the child cannot reach the plant's poisonous leaves.[23] Others recommend placing pots near the toilet tank to counter the drain-down vibrations.[24]

"Sansevieria". World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Stevens, P.F. (2001–2012), Angiosperm Phylogeny Website: Asparagales: Nolinoideae
Lu, Pei-Luen & Morden, Clifford W. (2014), "Phylogenetic Relationships among Dracaenoid Genera (Asparagaceae: Nolinoideae) Inferred from Chloroplast DNA Loci", Systematic Botany, 39 (1): 90–104, doi:10.1600/036364414X678035, S2CID 86171270
Mbugua, P. K.; D. M. Moore (1996). "Taxonomic studies of the genus Sansevieria (Dracaenaceae)". In L. J. G. van der Maesen; M. van der Burgt; J. M. van Medenbach de Rooy (eds.). The Biodiversity of African Plants (hardcover) (1st ed.). p. 880. doi:10.1007/978-94-009-0285-5_62. ISBN 978-94-010-6613-6.
Chase, M.W.; Reveal, J.L. & Fay, M.F. (2009), "A subfamilial classification for the expanded asparagalean families Amaryllidaceae, Asparagaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae", Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 161 (2): 132–136, doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00999.x
Stover, Hermine (1983). The Sansevieria Book.
Chahinian, B. Juan (2005). The Splendid Sansevieria: An Account of the Species. ISBN 987-43-9250-9.
Coombes, Allen J. (2012). "The A to Z of Plant Names". Timber Press. ISBN 9781604691962 (hardback). pp 265
Gledhill, David (2008). "The Names of Plants". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521866453 (hardback), ISBN 9780521685535 (paperback). pp 339
"Plant Name Details for Sansevieria Thunb". The International Plant Names Index. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
Marais, W. (1973). "(350) Proposal to Amend the Entry of 1100. Sanseviera in the List of Nomina Generica Conservanda". Taxon. 22 (1): 158–159. JSTOR 1218069.
"Section S". ICN: Appendix IIIA Nomina Generica Conservanda et Rejicienda. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
Menale, Bruno; De Luca, Paolo & Del Guacchio, Emanuele (2013), "A plea to restore Petagna's authorship for the genus Sansevieria, nom. cons. (Liliaceae)", Taxon, 62 (2): 387–390, doi:10.12705/622.7, JSTOR taxon.62.2.387
Mansfeld, P.A. Die Systematik der Gattung Sansevieria (Asparagaceae). Sansevieria Online 3(1). 2015.
Kirby, F. Vaughan (1899). Sport In East Central Africa: Being An Account Of Hunting Trips In Portuguese And Other Districts Of East Central Africa.
Chinasa, EC; Obodoike, EC & Chhukwuemeka, ES (2011), "Evaluation of anti-inflammatory property of the leaves of Sansevieria liberica ger. and labr. (fam: Dracaenaceae).", Asian Pac J Trop Med, 4 (10): 791–5, doi:10.1016/S1995-7645(11)60195-8, PMID 22014734
"Sansevieria trifasciata".
McDonald, Elvin (2012). The World Book Of House Plants. Literary Licensing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-258-42148-9.
Henley, R.W.; Chase, A.R.; Osborne, L.S. "Sansevieria Production Guide". University of Florida, IFAS.
"Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement" (PDF). NASA.
"faq". feng shui palace. Archived from the original on 15 July 2018.
"SANSEVIERIA CYLINDRICA". Portland Nursery. Archived from the original on 18 June 2010. "Using Feng Shui principles, the Sansevieria is used to bring good fortune into the home, while warding off evil spirits."
"Feng Shui and indoor plants". Archived from the original on 27 May 2010. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
Englebert, Clear (2001). Bedroom Feng Shui. Crossing Press. p. 143. ISBN 1-58091-109-9.

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