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Chlorophytum comosum is a perennial evergreen herb that is known as the spider plant. This plant is commonly recognized as a houseplant in several countries throughout the world. These grow wild in many regions of Africa, the Middle East and India and are consumed as a leafy green vegetable. They are in the Asparagaceae family. Other common names include airplane plant, ribbon plant, hen-and-chickens, hen-en-kuikens and iphamba. Spider plants are very popular in cultivation due to their drought-tolerance and their relatively disease and pest-free nature. It grows prolifically and the rhizomes can reach up to 15cm long. It is reported to help keep the liver healthy liver, cures cough and cold, is anti-cancerous and is a potential prebiotic. It is also supposedly beneficial in bone healing and with burns.
The species Chlorophytum comosum has long, thin, medium to dark-green satiny leaves. However, the Chlorophytum comosum Vittatum is the most commonly grown spider plant and has long recurved medium green leaves with a broad central white stripe.
The individual flowers are white, star-shaped, and up to 2cm in diametre with 6 stamens. The tepals are oblong, up to 1cm long. The style is smooth and small with a minute point (stigma). The flowers grow in axillary fascicles. In the wild, the flowering period is throughout the summer months. The flowers are often replaced by vegetative leafy buds, which root for reproduction.
The linear leaves grow in a dense basal rosette, are bright light to dark green, smooth with a prominent mid-vein and channelled. The leaves measure about 30cm long and 2cm wide, end in a soft point and they have smooth margins.
This plant can grown up to 1m (3') tall and 1m in diametre.
Spider plants often grow in dominant stands in forested moist river valleys. The succulent roots enable the plant to cope during dry winter conditions. It thrives in a variety of soils (volcanic or sedimentary) derived from sandstone, shale, dolorite or granite. The soils are usually slightly acidic. They tend to grow in part to full shade areas.
Leaves are known to be edible in small quantities. In some parts of Africa this is known as a potherb. According to the University of Florida, Chlorophytum comosum (Vittatum) contains phosporus, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Micronutrients include copper, iron, manganese and zinc. Chlorophytum comosum root tubers are a good source of sodium and potassium. They also contain fat and protein.
Chlorophytum comosum Vittatum.
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