Image courtesy of Mlogic
Mother in law’s tongue
Sansevieria trifasciata, Snake Plant
An evergreen perennial plant with stiff leaves that grow vertically from a base. The leaves are long and green with light greenish cross banding. The plant is said to be native to west Africa, it has several names around the world and is associated with a spirit being that holds the crossroads between our worlds and thus used for communication and in protective rituals, as well as other stories.
Mother in Law’s tongue prefers shaded areas and well drained soil. The plant can tolerate a variety of soils but is native to tropical areas so prefers warmer weather. It makes an excellent indoor plant, so you can grow one in cooler areas, it requires little light and just a little bit of water.
How to Plant
A mature plant can reach up to 1.5 meter high and will spread through a creeping rhizome, so provide enough space if planted outdoors. For indoor planting you can use any medium to large pot, depending how big you want it to get.
How to Water
These plants really do not need allot of water, if planted outside and it is warm with no rain you can water every two to three weeks, during the winter months you can water ever other month to every two months. The roots will rot if over watered.
If your Sansevieria trifasciata is sharing its space with others make sure they require irregular watering and well draining soil too. I know mine in pots and also in the medicinal garden.
How to Propagate
Mother in Law’s Tongue can easily be propagated by dividing the rhizome or by making cuttings.
How to Harvest
Mother in Law’s Tongue is not edible, but the strong plant fibres do get used to make bowstrings and there are reports and research for various medicinal uses.
Information & Research
Alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids, phenols, glycosides, proteins, Anthocyanin, betacyanin, phytosterol, steroids and carbohydrates
Removes environmental toxins (19). Anti-bacterial, Anti-microbial (17), anti-diabetic and possibly more based on how it has been used in the past such as to treat shingles, ear infection etc. (17, 18).
According to NASA it is an important removed of the following environmental toxins: Benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, but not ammonia (19). The results obtained in one study suggest it might be usable in fever and inflammatory disorders (18).
Preparations & Uses
The leaves and rhizome are usually used.
The plant should not be taken internally because it is toxic. I have read recipes for warm juice that is dropped into the ear and decoctions that are used in research, but there is too little information available to make any conclusive remarks.
Mother in Law’s tongue is really a beautiful house plant with great air filtering abilities. A study by NASA found that it is one of the best plants for improving indoor air quality by passively absorbing toxins such as nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde (19).