Gloriosa superba

Gloriosa superba

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Common name: Glory Lily, Gloriosa lily, Tiger claw, claw
Hindi: बचनाग bachnag, kadyanag, करी हरी kari hari, languli, उलट चन्दल ulatchandal
Marathi: कळ लावी Kal-lavi, indai, khadyanag, वाघचबका vaghachabaka
Tamil: கலப்பை கிழங்கு Kallappai kilangu
Malayalam: Kithonni, Mendoni
Telugu: అగ్నీసిఖా Agnisikha
Kannada: ಅಗ್ನೀಸಿಖೆ Agnisikhe, karadikanninagadde, siva-raktaballi, siva-saktiballi
Bengali: Bishalanguli, Ulatchandal
Oriya: garbhhoghhatono, meheriaphulo, ognisikha, panjangulia
Urdu: Kanol, Kulhar
Gujarati: દૂધિઓ Dudhio, વછોનાગ Vacchonag
Sanskrit: अग्निमुखी Agnimukhi, अग्निशिखा Agnisikha, ailni, garbhaghatini, Kalikari, Langalika
Nepali: नेपाली केवारा Nepali kewara
Nepali: हरितालि फूल Haritaali Phool, केवारा Kewaaraa, लंगली Langalee, अग्निशिखा Agnishikhaa
Botanical name: Gloriosa superba     
Family: Liliaceae (Lily family)
Synonyms: Gloriosa rothschildiana, Gloriosa speciosa, Gloriosa simplex

Langali (Gloriosa superba) Information, Uses and Warning

Learn some useful Ayurvedic remedies of Langali plant to treat health conditions like piles, skin infections due to parasites, lice, Paralysis, arthritis etc.

Gloriosa superba is a medicinal plant native of Indian forests. In Ayurveda, Kalihari or Agnishikha is kept in the Upvish varg category. It is one of the seven minor poison. The seven minor poisonous plants of Upvisha Varga are Aak (Madar), Sehund (Thuhar), Kaner, Gunja (Ratti), Afeem (Opium), Dhatura and Kalihari / Langli. Flame lily, Kalihari, Langlika, Langli, Agnishikha, Kalikari, Vishalya are few common names of Gloriosa superba. Gloriosa superba is the state flower of Tamil Nadu and the national flower of Zimbabwe.
The rhizomes are capable of causing abortion and therefore they are also called Garbhaghatini (destroyer of Garbha / Pregnancy). Traditionally, Langli is used in treatment of piles, swollen joints, parasitical affections of skin, and for stimulating labor pains. In some parts of country, the roots are administered to cattle affected by worms.

Challiyan at ml.wikipedia [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
The tubers are used both internally and externally. Externally, it is safe to use.

How the Kalihari tubers are used?

In Ayurveda, two varieties of Gloriosa superba are considered. In one variety, root branches and this type is called male plant. But in other variety, the root does not divide at all and it is considered female plant.
For internal use, the male roots are collected during the flowering season. They are cut in thin slices and soaked in butter-milk added with little salt. It is soaked by night and dried by the day, for four or five days. It is eventually dried well and preserved. By this process, the poisonous properties are said to be removed. For cobra poison, thus Shodhit / purified roots are administered as antidote.

General Information

Kalihari (Gloriosa superba) is an herbaceous tall glabrous branching climber. This is a rainy season plant and sprouts well in warm, humid and tropical conditions.
Rootstock is thick, arched, solid, fleshy-white, almost cylindrical or slightly laterally flattened, occurringin pieces of 15-30 cm long and 2.5 – 3.8 cm thick, often bifurcated with tapering ends, resembling a plough-share, one arm generally more than double the length of the other, brownish externally and yellowish internally, fracture, short, taste, acrid and bitter.
Leaves are alternate, opposite or trinately whorled, lanceolate, strongly nerved, with a long spiral tendril like apex. Flowers are large, showy, axillary, solitary, pedicels reflexed at the tip. Perianth petaloid, persistent. Segments 6, subequal, spreading or reflexed, the margins often undulate. Stamens 6, hypogynous, filaments filiform, anthers linear, dorsinxed, versatile, dehiscing extrorsely. 

Ovary 3-celled, ovules numerous in each cell, style filiform, deflexed, with 3 subulate arms stigmatose within. Fruit a large coriaceous septicidal capsule. Seeds subglobose, testa spongy, wing like.

Gloriosa superba is distributed throughout tropical India and in Andaman islands. It is often cultivated in tropical and South Africa, Madagascar, Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar.

Scientific Classification

The botanical name of Flame lily is Gloriosa superba. It belongs to plant family Liliaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
  • Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
  • Subclass: Liliidae
  • Order: Liliales
  • Family: Liliaceae – Lily family
  • Genus: Gloriosa L. – flame lily
  • Species: Gloriosa superba L. – flame lily
  1. Gloriosa abyssinica A. Rich.
  2. Gloriosa rothschildiana O’Brien.
  3. Gloriosa homblei De Wild.
  4. Clinostylis speciosa Hochst.
Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Rhizomes, leaves and seeds (for extraction of Thiocolchicoside and Colchicine)
  • Distribution: Tropical Asia and Africa
  • Habitat: Throughout tropical India, up to 2350 m on the hills.
  • Type: Climber herb
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Group: Monocot
  • Status: Endangered
  • Toxicity: Poisonous plant

Vernacular names/Synonyms

  • Latin name: Gloriosa superba
  • Ayurvedic: Langali, Langaliki, Langalaki, Langlahva, Indrapushpi, Agnishikha, Ananta, Vishalya, Visalya, Halini, Sirikrama, Shukrapushpika, Vahnimukhi, Garbhapatani, Kalihari, Kalikari, Shakrapushpi, Garbhaghatini
  • Siddha: Kalappaik Kizhangu
  • English: Glory Lily, Super Lily, Tiger’s Claws, Climbing Lily
  • Bengali: Bisalanguli, Bishalanguli
  • Gujarati: Khadiyanag, Dudhiya vachnag
  • Hindi: Kalihari
  • Kannada: Kolikutumana Gade, Nangulika
  • Malayalam: Mathonni, Menthonni
  • Marathi: Karianag
  • Oriya: Dangogahana
  • Punjabi: Kariyari, Kariari
  • Tamil: Kalappoi Kizhangu, Akkinichilam
  • Telugu: Potthidumpa, Adavinabhi
  • Myanmar: Si – mee – dauk
In Ayurveda, Costus specious is also used as Kalihari.

Constituents of Gloriosa superba

Flowers, leaves and tubers contain colchicine, superbin, N-formyl deacetyl colchicine, demethyl colochicine and lumicolchicine. Tubers also contain gloriosine.

Leaves also contain chelidonic acid, 2-hydroxy 6-methoxy benzoic acid and b-sitosterol glucoside.

Uses in Allopathy

In Allopathy, Thiocolchicoside (THC) is used clinically as muscle relaxant, antiinflammatory, analgesic and Colchicine as antigout. THC is used for the treatment of painful muscle spasms, neurologic disorders, orthopedic, traumatic and rheumatologic disorders. Both are extracted from the seeds of Gloriosa superba.
Thiocolchicoside is a semi-synthetic sulfur derivative of colchicoside, a naturally occurring glucoside present in the plant Gloriosa superb seeds in the process of producing Colchicine. It is a pale Yellow Powder.
THC has a selective affinity for g-amino-butyric acid (GABA) receptors and acts on the muscular contracture by activating the GABA-nergic inhibitory pathways thereby acting as a potent muscle relaxant. It is less sedating compared to other centrally acting muscle relaxants.

Oral, parenteral and topical formulations of thiocolchicoside are available in India. Many medicines such as Myoril Sanofi-Aventis and TDP (Thiocolchicoside and Diclofenac) Aamorb contain THC. Dosage of Thiocolchicoside for adult is 8-16 mg. The maximum recommended oral dose is 8 mg every 12 hours for no more than 7 consecutive days. The maximum intramuscular dose should be 4 mg every 12 hours, for up to 5 days. Topical application can be used many times a day.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action

The Kalihari rhizome is pungent, bitter, acrid, heating, anthelmintic, laxative, alexiteric, and abortifacient. It is astringent, bitter and pungent in taste (Rasa), pungent after digestion (Vipaka), and is hot in effect (Virya). It aggravates pitta and alleviates aggravated Vata / Vayu and Kapha.
  • Rasa (taste on tongue): Kashaya (Astringent), Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Tikshna (Sharp), Sara (Unstable)
  • Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)

  • Garbhapatan: Causes abortion
  • Kaphahhar: Balances Kapha
  • Vatahar: Balances Vata

Important Ayurvedic Formulations

  1. Mahavishgarbh taila
  2. Nirundi taila
  3. Rumalaya cream
  4. Langali Gutika
  5. Chitrakadi Taila

Important Medicinal Properties

Gloriosa superba is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid it. For example, it has abortifacient action and must not be used in pregnancy.
Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.
  1. Abortifacient: induces abortion.
  2. Antiinflammatory: reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
  3. Anthelmintic: expel parasitic worms (helminths) and other internal parasites from the body.
  4. Alexeteric: Counteracts an infection or toxin.
  5. Laxative: tending to stimulate or facilitate evacuation of the bowels.
  6. Pustulant: Causing the formation of pustules.
  7. Rubefacient: produces redness of the skin on topical application by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation.

Medicinal Uses of Kalihari / Langali / Agnishikha (Gloriosa superba)

In Ayurveda, Agnishikha tubers are useful in chronic ulcers, leprosy, inflammation, scrofula, hemorrhoids, pruritus, piles, abdominal pain, itching, thirst, bowel complaints, dyspepsia, helminthiasis, flatulence, intermittent fevers and to remove the placenta from the uterus.
The flowers are used for fever and thirst. The root is given internally as an effective antidote against cobra poison. A paste of the root is also used as an anodyne applications in bites of poisonous insects, snake bites, scorpion sting, parasitic skin diseases and leprosy.

1. Asthma, arthritis

Tuber powder and roasted common salt in the ratio of 1:2 is orally taken in a dose of 2 gm for asthma and arthritis.

Also Read  Vatha Kesari Thailam

2. Foreign object in the skin (like nail, glass), splinter

Make a paste of tuber by rubbing on stone and apply on affected place.

3. Lice

The juice of the ground leaves is used for topical application.

4. Poisonous snake bite, scorpion sting, parasitical affections of the skin

The paste of tuber is applied on affected place.
For snake bite, Shodhit (treated as above) tuber slice is chewed thrice a day.

5. Promoting labor pains

The root, powdered and reduced to a paste is applied to the navel, supra-pubicregion and vagina with the object.

6. Paralysis

Shodhit / purified tuber slice is chewed thrice a day. This is done for 15 days.

7. Retained placenta

Paste of the root is applied to the palms and soles and powdered nigella seeds and long pepper are given internally.

8. Rheumatism

Shodhit (treated as above) tuber slice is taken twice a day for 15 days.

9.Spot baldness

The paste of tuber is applied on affected place.
Other Uses

In tropical Africa the different parts of Gloriosa superba have a wide variety of uses, especially in traditional medicine. In Côte d’Ivoire a leaf decoction applied as a liniment eases cough and general pain, and leaf juice is instilled into the nose in case of fainting. In Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso leaves are administered in enema as a decongestant. In Congo crushed leaves are applied to the chest to treat asthma. In Burundi a leaf decoction is recommended for treating dropsy of the scrotum, while the leaf pulp serves against rheumatism.

 The Ulanga people of Tanzania burn the herb and apply ash on wounds to promote healing. They also drink the plant juice as an antimalarial.
At low doses, the tuber has numerous medicinal applications.

 It is used traditionally for the treatment of bruises, colic, chronic ulcers, haemorrhoids and cancer, and is also employed as a tonic and purgative. It is put into poultices to relieve neuralgia, and used in topical applications to treat arthritic conditions, swellings of the joints, sprains and dislocations. The tuber is claimed to have antidotal properties to snakebites. In Sudan tuber sap is an ingredient of a drink that induces sleep.

The Marakwet people of Kenya take a tuber decoction against abdominal disorders and to induce abortion. Macerated tuber is also taken against smallpox, leprosy, eczema, itch, and ringworm. In DR Congo the rasped and washed tuber is used externally to treat venereal diseases and stomach-ache.

The anthelmintic properties of the tuber, fruits and leaves are widely known and they are used to treat infections of Guinea worms, schistosomes (causing bilharzia), roundworm, tapeworm, liver fluke and filaria. A rectal injection of the juice from mashed leaves is applied to cure female sterility among Pygmy groups. A paste made from the tuber is applied externally to facilitate parturition.

The Ulanga people of Tanzania use tuber juice for ear drops to treat earache, while the Shona people of Zimbabwe drop tuber juice on painful teeth. In Zambia the tuber is part of a preparation for impotence, and is used as an abortifacient. Soup made from leaf or tuber sap is given to women suffering from sterility, delayed puberty, delayed childbirth and menstrual problems.

Leaf juice, unripe fruits mixed with butter, and tuber macerate are frequently used to kill head lice.
In northern Nigeria the tuber is added to arrow poison based on Strophanthus sp. In coastal Kenya and Tanzania, powdered tuber is commonly used as a suicidal agent and to commit homicide, because of its high toxicity.

The species is also widely believed to have magical properties.
Several cultivars of Gloriosa superba are cultivated in the tropics and under greenhouse conditions in temperate regions, the commonest being ‘Rothschildiana’. It is grown both as a cut flower and as a pot plant.

Dosage of Gloriosa superba

125-250 mg. of purified drug.
Always remember, this is a toxic plant. So please do not take internally as a self-medication. It can be lethal.
Inform the children about the poisonous nature of the plant.

Caution, Warning, Side effects

This plant has poisonous effect to environment and livestock. The toxic properties are due to presence of alkaloids chiefly colchicine.
  1. Colchicine can kill.
  2. Flowers and tuber can cause abortion.
  3. It is bad for sperms (anti-spermatogenic).
  4. It must not be used in pregnancy, breastfeeding, ulcer and kidney disease.
  5. The roots are never used without purification.
  6. It is a gastrointestinal irritant and may cause vomiting and purging when taken internally.
  7. Symptoms of poisoning include tingling and numbness of the lips, mucous membrane irritation, severe vomiting, diarrhea, colic, hypotension, convulsions, and respiratory failure.
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