Flame lily / Glory lily – Gloriosa Superba

Calihari / Panchangulia / Glory Lily / Flame Lily / Agni shikha / Bachnag / Karthigaipoo / Gloriosa Superba  is a perennial tuberous climbing herb. They prefer tropical forest. It is a beautiful ornamental plant with eye catching multicolored glorious flowers. The herb is growing from a fleshy rhizome. It is scandent, climbing using modified leaf-tip tendrils, the stem reaching 4 meters long. The leaves are somewhat lance-shaped and tipped with tendrils, and they are up 13 to 20 centimeters long. The tendrils present in the leaves help the plant to grow with the support of other plants in order to get sunlight. The flower of Gloriosa superba is also the national flower of Zimbabwe and state flower of Tamil Nadu.

This plant is poisonous, toxic enough to cause human and animal fatalities if ingested. It has been used to commit murder, to achieve suicide, and to kill animals. Every part of the plant is poisonous, especially the tuberous rhizomes. Within a few hours of the ingestion of a toxic amount of plant material, a victim may experience nausea, vomiting, numbness, and tingling around the mouth, burning in the throat, abdominal pain, and bloody diarrhea, which leads to dehydration.

The rhizome and seeds are used in Ayurvedic medicine. The flowers are used in religious ceremonies.

Flame lily has many medicinal properties heating, antihelmintic, laxative, alexiteric, abortifacient, used as a tonic, anti-periodic.

The plant is rich in chemical components like alkaloids, gloriosin, lumicolcolchicine, demethylcolchicine. The seeds of Glory Lily contain high level of colchicines. All parts of Gloriosa contain colchicine, the roots and seeds are especially rich. The alkaloid-rich plant has long been used as a traditional medicine in many cultures. It has been used in the treatment of gout, infertility, open wounds, snakebite, ulcers, arthritis, cholera, colic, kidney problems, typhus, itching, leprosy, bruises, sprains, hemorrhoids, cancer, impotence, nocturnal emission, smallpox, sexually transmitted diseases, and many types of internal parasites. It is an anthelmintic. It has been used as a laxative and an alexiteric. The sap is used to treat acne and head lice. In a pregnant woman, it may cause abortion. Extracts of the rhizome are applied topically during childbirth to reduce labor pain. Other uses for this plant is arrow poison and snake repellent.


  • Joint diseases and gout
  • Malignant tumors
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Labour pain, abortion
  • Kills lice
  • Antihelmintic
  • Treats skin diseases, leprosy
  • Antidote for snakebites


Cautions: Poisonous! Use in small doses and under medical supervision!