Gloriosa superba L.

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Gloriosa superba

Picture: Helen Pickering
South of Livingstone: take the road past Batoka Sky (Sichinga road on 1974 map) to the T junction, turn right, on right hand side about half way to ZAWA gate.

Gloriosa superba

Picture: Helen Pickering
Riverside drive about 300m before ZAWA gate

Gloriosa superba

Kundalila Falls; Jan 2014.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Gloriosa superba

Kamukanda; Dec 2010.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Gloriosa superba

Chipongwe Cave, Lusaka SSW 28km; Jan 2014.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Gloriosa superba

Lusaka, cultivated; Jan 2010.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Gloriosa superba

Floodplain; Kabompo River at Ntambu; Dec 2009.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Gloriosa superba

Floodplain; Kabompo River at Ntambu; Dec 2009.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Gloriosa superba

Sprouting from tips of both arms of tuber; Nov 2014.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Gloriosa superba

Lusaka East; Mar 1996.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Specimen citations: Display citations Detailed records: Display species records QDS maps by: Google Maps Point records by Google Maps

Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Synonyms: Gloriosa carsonii Baker
Gloriosa lutea Hort.
Gloriosa simplex L.
Gloriosa virescens Lindl.
Common names: Christmas flower (English: Zambia) Flame lily (English: Zambia)
Frequency: Common and widespread
Status: Native
Habit very variable, erect and free standing, to about 1 m tall, or scandent. Flowers facing downward (‘nodding’), on long pedicels, recurved towards the tip. Tepals reflexed, monochrome red, orange or yellow, or bicoloured yellow and various shades of red or dull mauve; margins sinuate or not. Stamens wide spreading, strongly upturned.
Type location:
Notes: The species is far more common than is generally realised, as few plants escape attack by insects which prevents flowering while not causing permanent damage to the plant.
Derivation of specific name: superba: superb, proud, referring to the spectacular flowers
Habitat: Various woodland types, thicket margins, rocky terrain and termite mounds.
Altitude range:
Flowering time:Dec - Feb
Worldwide distribution: Throughout tropical Africa, Asia and Indian Ocean islands.
Zambian distribution (Flora Zambesiaca): B,N,W,C,E,S
Zambian distribution (Provinces): Nw,Cb,Lp,N,Mc,E,C,Lk,S,W
Growth form(s): Climber.
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species: spilosoma lineata (Larval foodplant)
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Bandeira, S., Bolnick, D. & Barbosa, F. (2007). Wild Flowers of Southern Mozambique Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo, Mozambique Page 54. (Includes a picture).

Baumann, G. (2005). Photographic Guide to Wildflowers of Malawi Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi Pages 202 - 203. also as Gloriosa carsonii (Includes a picture).

Bolnick, D. (2007). A Guide to the Common Wild Flowers of Zambia and Neighbouring Regions Revised Edition. WECS, Lusaka, Zambia Page 63. (Includes a picture).

Burrows, J.E. & Willis, C.K. (eds) (2005). Plants of the Nyika Plateau Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 31 SABONET, Pretoria Page 294. (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 28.

Chapano, C. & Mugarisanwa, N.H. (2003). Plants of the Matobo District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 18.

Fabian, A. & Germishuizen, G. (1997). Wild Flowers of Northern South Africa. Fernwood Press, Vlaeburg. Pages 36 - 37. (Includes a picture).

Heath, A. & Heath, R. (2009). Field Guide to the Plants of Northern Botswana including the Okavango Delta Kew Publishing Page 120. (Includes a picture).

La Croix, I. (2009). Colchicaceae Flora Zambesiaca 12(2) Pages 182 - 185. (Includes a picture).

Linley, K. & Baker, B. (1972). Flowers of the Veld Bundu Series Longman Zimbabwe Pages 12 - 13. (Includes a picture).

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 86.

Maroyi, A (2002). Colchicaceae in Zimbabwe Kirkia 18(1) Page 3.

Maroyi, A. (2012). The genus Gloriosa (Colchicaceae) - ethnobotany, phylogeny and taxonomy Wageningen University, Netherlands Pages 1 - 194. (Includes a picture).

Moriarty, A. (1975). Wild Flowers of Malawi Purnell & sons Cape Town. Page 20. Also as Gloriosa virescens (Includes a picture).

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32

Pickering, H. & Roe, E. (2009). Wild Flowers of the Victoria Falls Area Helen Pickering, London Page 49. (Includes a picture).

Plowes, D.C.H. & Drummond, R.B. (1990). Wild Flowers of Zimbabwe. Revised edition. Longman, Zimbabwe. No. 3, plate 13,14 & 15

Pooley, E. (1998). A Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region. Natal Flora Publications Trust. Durban. Pages 26 - 27. (Includes a picture).

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 117.

Siebert, S. & Mössmer, M. (Editors) (2002). SABONET Southern Mozambique Expedition 2001; Provisional Plant Checklist of the Maputo Elephant Reserve (MER) and Licuati Forest Reserve (LFR) SABONET News 7(1) Page 25.

Strugnell, A.M. (2006). A Checklist of the Spermatophytes of Mount Mulanje, Malawi Scripta Botanica Belgica 34 National Botanic Garden of Belgium Page 69.

Timberlake, J.R. & Childes, S.L. (2004). Biodiversity of the Four Corners Area: Technical Reviews Volume Two (Chapter 5-15) Appendix 5-1: Plant Checklist Occasional Publications in Biodiversity 15 Page 181.

Vinnersten, A. & Manning, J. (2007). A new classification of Colchicaceae. Taxon 56 Pages 171 - 178.

Wursten, B., Timberlake, J. & Darbyshire, I. (2017). The Chimanimani Mountains: an updated checklist. Kirkia 19(1) Page 81.

Other sources of information about Gloriosa superba:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Gloriosa superba
Flora of Caprivi: Gloriosa superba
Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Gloriosa superba
Flora of Malawi: Gloriosa superba
Flora of Mozambique: Gloriosa superba
Flora of Zimbabwe: Gloriosa superba
Flora of Zimbabwe: cultivated Gloriosa superba

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Gloriosa superba
African Plant Database: Gloriosa superba
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Gloriosa superba
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Gloriosa superba
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Gloriosa superba
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Gloriosa superba
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Gloriosa superba
JSTOR Plant Science: Gloriosa superba
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Gloriosa superba
Plants of the World Online: Gloriosa superba
Tropicos: Gloriosa superba
Wikipedia: Gloriosa superba

Copyright: Mike Bingham, Annette Willemen, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Mark Hyde, 2011-24

Bingham, M.G., Willemen, A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. and Hyde, M.A. (2024). Flora of Zambia: Species information: Gloriosa superba., retrieved 13 April 2024

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