The mother of all Sansevierias

Sansevierias, sometimes called mother-in-law’s tongues, are very popular houseplants. The variety with yellow leaf margin (Sansevieria trifasciata var. Laurentii) was first described in 1904 by Emile De Wildeman, a scientist at the Botanic Garden. The specimen you see in the Plant Palace (greenhouse Savannah and Monsoon Forest), dates from 1907 and is the mother plant of all yellow variegated sansevierias cultivated worldwide.

Sansevierias grow in the savannah, with alternating dry and wet seasons.  They survive the dry season thanks to the water they store in their leaves. This also makes them so suitable as a houseplant: they don't need much care and can thrive in difficult conditions.

A fair number of species are also valued for their medicinal and ethnobotanical purposes. Despite their economic importance, taxonomic uncertainty has resulted in lack of progress in studying their diversity and evolution. Researchers from Meise Botanic Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Ghent University have joined forces to resolve the evolutionary relationships among sansevierias.