FLAME LILY

Cosmos - - Gallery - CREDIT: STEVE GSCHMEISSNER / GETTY IMAGES

One species in this fam­ily of peren­nial herbs comes with a name that hints at both over­ween­ing am­bi­tion and high main­tenance: Glo­riosa su­perba. Com­monly known by sev­eral names in­clud­ing flame lily, its dra­matic flame-like petals have made it a fix­ture along­side kikiyu lawns and Hills hoists in east­ern Aus­tralian back­yards. It is also on the in­va­sive weed lists of Queens­land and New South Wales. The tu­bers of this flo­ral femme fa­tale con­tain the al­ka­loid colchicine, which is toxic or even fa­tal at high enough doses over time, but also has medic­i­nal prop­er­ties in­clud­ing a treat­ment for gout. In In­dia Glo­riosa is har­vested as a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal crop.

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