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Kniphofia foliosa Hochst.

Flora 27: 30 (1844).
Vernacular names
Torch lily, red hot poker (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Kniphofia foliosa is endemic to Ethiopia.
The rhizomes of Kniphofia foliosa are used in Ethiopia for the treatment of abdominal cramps. The plant is also used to eradicate endoparasites in cattle. The rhizome is said to be edible. Kniphofia foliosa is sometimes planted as an ornamental in Europe.
Knipholone was isolated from the roots of Kniphofia foliosa. It was the first phenylanthraquinone to be isolated and has since also been found in Bulbinella, Bulbine and Senna. Phenylanthraquinones have antiplasmodial activity with little cytotoxicity. The antiplasmodial activity is slightly less than that of chloroquine, and chloroquine resistant Plasmodium strains are resistant to the Kniphofia compounds as well. The roots of Kniphofia foliosa further contain the anthraquinone chrysophanol as well as putrescine-derived amides.
Robust perennial herb up to 175 cm tall, forming clumps, without stem, rarely with stem up to 40 cm long, with thick erect rhizome. Leaves in basal rosette, simple, spreading, without stipules and petiole, linear to lanceolate, up to 100 cm Χ 4(–7) cm, keeled, apex long-acuminate, margin finely toothed. Inflorescence a terminal raceme 15–40 cm long, very densely flowered; peduncle erect, 30–150 cm long; bracts ovate to ovate-lanceolate, 4–12 mm long, finely toothed. Flowers bisexual, regular, 3-merous; pedicel 3–4 mm long; perianth funnel-shaped, 18–27 mm long, slightly constricted at base, widening at mouth, perianth lobes up to 6 mm Χ 3 mm, yellow, orange or red; stamens 6, 8–15 mm long, exserted; ovary superior, 3-celled, style slender, 8–15 mm long, stigma minute. Fruit an ovoid capsule c. 8 mm long, dehiscing loculicidally, brown to black, few-seeded. Seeds slightly flattened, 3-angled, grey-black.
Kniphofia comprises about 65 species of which about 45 in southern Africa. In Ethiopia 7 species occur, including 5 endemics. Isoenzyme analysis showed that the Ethiopian endemic species share a fairly recent common ancestor, but have differentiated in floral and inflorescence characteristics through rapid evolution.
Kniphofia linearifolia Baker is distributed from Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique into South Africa. In Zimbabwe the powdered root is mixed with food to treat infertility in women. Kniphofia linearifolia is widely planted as an ornamental and cut flower in southern Africa.
Kniphofia foliosa grows along roadsides, in overgrazed grassland with scattered trees, on hillsides with rocky outcrops and on mountains at 2500–4000 m altitude.
Kniphofia foliosa is only harvested from the wild.
Genetic resources and breeding
Kniphofia foliosa is fairly widespread in Ethiopia and there are no indications of over-utilization.
Kniphofia foliosa will remain of local importance as a medicinal plant. It remains of interest to pharmacologists for its antiplasmodial activity and has potential as an ornamental.
Major references
• Dagne, E. & Steglich, W., 1984. Knipholone: a unique antraquinone derivative from Kniphofia foliosa. Phytochemistry 23 (8): 1729–1731.
• Demissew Sebsebe & Nordal, I., 1997. Asphodelaceae. In: Edwards, S., Mesfin Tadesse, Demissew Sebsebe & Hedberg, I. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Volume 6. Hydrocharitaceae to Arecaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 106–116.
• Wirtu, G., Adugna, G., Samuel, T., Kelbessa, E. & Geleto, A., 1999. Aspects of farmers' knowledge, attitudes and practices of animal health problems in central Ethiopia. In: Mathias, E., Rangnekar, D.V., McCorkle, C.M. & Martin, M. (Editors). Ethnoveterinary medicine: alternatives for livestock development. Proceedings of an International Conference held in Pune, India, 4–6 November 1997. 82 pp. BAIF Development Research Foundation, Pune, India. pp. 41–52.
Other references
• Abegaz, B.M., 2002. Novel phenylanthraquinones, isofuranonaphthoquinones, homoisoflavonoids, and biflavonoids from African plants in the genera Bulbine, Scilla, Ledebouria, and Rhus. Phytochemistry Reviews 1: 299–310.
• Bringmann, G., Menche, D., Bezabih, M.-T., Abegaz, B.M. & Kaminsky, R., 1999. Antiplasmodial activity of knipholone and related natural phenylanthraquinones. Planta Medica 65(8): 757–758.
• Gelfand, M., Mavi, S., Drummond, R.B. & Ndemera, B., 1985. The traditional medical practitioner in Zimbabwe: his principles of practice and pharmacopoeia. Mambo Press, Gweru, Zimbabwe. 411 pp.
• Teklehaymanot, T., Bekele, E., Demissew, S. & Nordal, I., 2004. Isoenzyme analysis of five endemic and one widespread Kniphofia species (Asphodelaceae) of Ethiopia. SINET: Ethiopian Journal of Science 27(2): 143–152.
• Wube, A.A., Bucar, F., Asres, K., Gibbons, S., Rattray, L. & Croft, S.L., 2005. Antimalarial compounds from Kniphofia foliosa roots. Phytotherapy Research 19(6): 472–476.
• C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

• G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
• A. Gurib-Fakim
Faculty of Science, University of Mauritius, Rιduit, Mauritius
Associate editors
• C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
• M.S.J. Simmonds
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, United Kingdom
• R. Arroo
Leicester School of Pharmacy, Natural Products Research, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH, United Kingdom
• A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
• R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
• L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2006. Kniphofia foliosa Hochst. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes mιdicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.