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Family Agapanthaceae
African lily
Agapanthus africanus Linn.

Scientific names Common names
Abumon africanum (L.) Britton African lily (Engl.)
Agapanthus africanus (L.) Hoffmans Blue lily (Engl.)
Agapanthus minor Lodd. Lily of the Nile (Engl.)
Agapanthus umbellatus L'Hér. Love flower (Engl.)
Crinum africanum L.  
Mauhlia africana (L.) Dahl  
Mauhlia linearis Thunb.  
Mauhlia umbellata (L'Hér.) Thunb. ex Schult. & Schult.f.  
Tulbaghia africana (L.) Kuntze  
Tulbaghia heisteri Fabr.  
Tulbaghia minor (Lodd.) Kuntze  
Agapanthus africanus (L.) Hoffmanns. is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
SPANISH: Agapanto, Flor de amor, Lirio africano.
ZULU: Ubani.

The name agapanthus (flower of love) derives from the Greek work agape meaning love, and anthos meaning love. Africanus derives from Latin referring to its African origin.

Agapanthus africanus is an evergreen shrub with thick rhizomes. Stems are stout, bearing a tuft of long, narrow leaves. Leaves are basal, 2-ranked, linear-lanceolate, up to 50 centimeters long and 2-4 centimeters wide. Flower stalks are stout, erect, up 30 to 50 centimeters high. Flowers are in umbels, 12- to 30-flowered, usually bright blue-violet, crowded at the end of along stalk,

- Ornamental pot cultivation in the Philippines.
- Native to Southern Africa but naturalized in scattered places in the world.

- Saponins and sapogenins of the furostane and spirostane type, including agapanthegenin and steroid spirostan sapogenins.
- Anthyocyanin gives the colors to the flowers.
- Study has yielded a chalcone compound, Isoliquiritigenin. (8)
- Spectral and chemical analysis of rhizomes yielded two novel steroidal saponins, (25R)-5α-spirost-7-ene-2-α,3β,5α-triol 3-O-
[-α-L-rhamnopyranosyl-(1 → 2)]-β-d-glucopyranoside 1 and (25R)-5α-spirost-7-ene-2α,3β,5α, 9a-tetrol-3-O-β-D-glucopyranoside (2). (12)

- Considered cardiac, stomachic, uterotonic. oxytoxic, pectoral, expectorant, aperient, purgative, nephritic.

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

Parts utilized
Rhizomes, leaves and roots.

• 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.

Oxytocic / Leaves:
Studies have shown that the aqueous extract of Agapanthus africanus leaves causes smooth muscle contractions in the uterine and ileal preparations. This study evaluated the effect of an aqueous extract of leaves on receptor systems involved in contraction of uterine smooth muscle to study the mechanism of its effect in augmenting labor. 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. (1)
Antifungal / Rhizomes: Ethanolic extract of A. Africanus rhizomes showed significant antifungal activity against human pathogens–Trychophyton mentagrophytes and Sporothrix schenekii. (3
) Crude extracts of aerial parts of A. africanus were screened against eight economically important plant pathogenic fungi. Results showed sufficient in vivo antifungal activity to warrant further investigation. (7)
Pesticide Alternative:
Invention reported on extracts and isolated substances that showed antimicrobial, especially antifungal, and bio-stimulatory efficacy and the suitability of these products as potential alternative for chemical pesticides. Extracts from aerial parts show higher efficacy compared to the soil parts of the plant. (6
Isoliquiritigenin / Anticancer: Plant yields a chalcone, isoliquiritigenin, which has been used in the treatment of cancer. (8)
Phytoremediation: Study suggests phytoremediation potential for petroleum. ( Analysis of Phytoscapes Species for BP Retail Sites. Kim Tsao. David Tsao, Ph.D. BP Group Environmental Management Company. 28 March 2003) (9
Saponin / Fungicidal / Induction of Apoplastic Activity in Wheat: Study of aerial parts isolated a spirostane saponin, trisaccharide, (25R)-5α-spirostane-2α,3β,5α-triol 3-O-(O-α-l-rhamnopyranosyl-(1 → 2)-O-(β-d-galactopyranosyl-(1 → 3))-β-d-glucopyranoside). Study showed significantly increase (60%) in wheat seedlings. The purified saponin inhibited the in vitro mycelial growth of F. oxysporum completely (100%) at concentration of 125 mg/ml. Results suggest a potential role as elicitor to activate defense reaction in wheat. (11) 

- Ornamental cultivation.

Updated June 2019 / February 2016

Photo © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph / An agapanthus in pre-bloom stage / close up / Agapanthus africanus Family: Liliaceae Image No. 2 / Victorrocha / CC BY-SA 3.0 / File:Agapanthus Prebloom.jpg / 31 May 2008 / Wikipedia
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph / Flower close up / Agapanthus africanus Family: Liliaceae Image No. 2 / Kurt Stüber [1] - caliban.mpiz-koeln.mpg.de/mavica/index.html part of www.biolib.de / CC BY-SA 3.0 / GFDL / Wikipedia

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Pharmacological effects of Agapanthus africanus on the isolated rat uterus / D J H Veale et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, September 1999; Vol 66, Issue 3: pp 257-262 / doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(98)00224-4
Toxicology and constituents
/ A Herb Monograph on Agapanthus africanus

Antifungal activity of Agapanthus africanus extractives / doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2007.12.004 / Fitoterapia Vol 79, Issue 4, June 2008, Pages 298-300
Steroidal saponins from the rhizomes of Agapanthus africanus (Linn) / Indian journal of chem / 2007, vol. 46, no7, pp. 1154-1158

Agapanthus africanus (L.) Hoffmanns / Synonyms / The Plant List
Extracts and compounds from agapanthus africanus and their use as biological plant protecting agents
EP 1903876 A2 (text from WO2007003286A2)
/ Patents
Antifungal properties of Agapanthus africanus L. extracts against plant pathogens / G. Tegegne, J.C. Pretorius, W.J. Swart / Crop Protection 27, 2008; pp 1052–1060 / doi:10.1016/j.cropro.2007.12.007
Anticancer plants: A Review / Rajandeep Kaur, Jagpreet Singh, Gagandeep Singh, Harpreet kaur. Rajandeep Kaur / J. Nat. Prod. Plant Resour., 2011; 1(4):pp 131-136
Agapanthus africanus / Phytoremediation
A saponin isolated from Agapanthus africanus differentially induces apoplastic peroxidase activity7 in wheat and displays fungicidal properties / Maria E Cawood, Johan C Pretorius. Jan H van der Westhuizen, Fanie R van Heerden / Acta Physiologiae Plantarum,  (2015) 37: 246 / https://doi.org/10.1007/s11738-015-1992-7
Steroidal saponins from the rhizomes of Agapanthus africanus (Linn.) / D N Singh, N Verma, and D K Kulshreshtha /
Indian Journal of Chemistry, July 2007; Vol 46B: pp 1154-1158

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

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