A condensed Tulbaghia violacea monograph, including its known uses in traditional medicine and its botanical information.
Side note: This is the only details the references cited below have about Tulbaghia violacea; if you can provide any additional information, photos or reliable records, please leave a comment below or in The Muthi Flora of southern Africa Facebook group.
Ethno Medicinal Uses of Tulbaghia violacea
Administered to people: Pounded tuber decoctions are administered as enemas for stomach ailments. (Hutchings et.al.)
Magical and Charm Use: Tuber infusions are taken as love charm emetics. Cultivated to keep snakes away from the home. (Hutchings et.al.)
Edible: The Zulus use the leaves and flowers as spinach and as a hot, peppery seasoning with meat and potatoes. (Hutchings et.al.)
Trade: Blue List. Traded as traditional medicine at muthi markets and shops.
Tulbaghia violacea is a popular plant in horticulture that is useful for difficult hot corners or exposed areas as it will tolerate prolonged drought, although it flourishes with regular watering. Tulbaghia violacea is a fast-growing, bulbous plant that reaches a height of 50 cm. The leaves are long, narrow, strap-like, slightly fleshy and smell strongly of garlic when bruised. They grow from fat, tuberous roots which spread to form clumps of plants. The pinkish mauve, tubular flowers, clustered into umbels of up to twenty flowers, are held above the leaves on a tall flower stalk. The flowers are sweetly scented at night. An excellent groundcover for difficult areas. Use in the garden as a companion plant, particularly to deter aphids. (Wildflower Nursery)
Family: Tulbaghias belongs to the Alliaceae family. They are herbaceous, often clump-forming perennials with compact tuberous rhizomes bearing thick roots. Tulbaghia is named after Ryk Tulbagh (died 1771), governor of the Cape of Good Hope, and violacea means violet-coloured.
Life Cycle: Perennial.
Morphology: Bulbous geophyte, 20 – 35 cm, strongly aromatic. Leaves suberect, linear, glaucous. Flowers mauve, corona lobes 3, free, to 2 mm long.
Habitat: Karroid bush and forest margins and stream banks. Alt 3 – 1220 m.
Arnold. T.H., Prentice, C.A., Hawker, L.C., Snyman, E.E., Tomalin, M., Crouch, N.R. and Pottas-Bircher, C. (2002). Medicinal and magical plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 13. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
Germizhuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds) 2003. Plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
Hutchings, A., Scott, A.H., Lewis, G., Cunnigham, A.B., (1996). Zulu Medicinal Plants: an inventory. University of Natal
e-Flora of South Africa. v1.21. 2018. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
Wildflower Nursery – https://wildflowernursery.co.za/indigenous-plant-database/tulbaghia-violacea/. Accessed on 2020/01/12