Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres
Kew Bull. 28(3): 470 (1973).
Asphodelaceae (APG: Xanthorrhoeaceae - Asphodeloideae)
Red hot poker, torch lily (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Kniphofia princeae occurs in the mountains around Lake Kivu in DR Congo, Rwanda, southern Tanzania and northern Malawi.
In Umalila (southern Tanzania) people use the leaves to make head-cushions for carrying loads. In Malawi strong cord is made from the leaf fibres. The flowers are sweet and sucked by children. They are also commonly visited by bees.
Production and international trade
Kniphofia princeae is only used locally.
Perennial, solitary herb 1.5–3 m tall; rhizome corm-like with short, well-spaced, erect, shoot-bearing branches; roots thick, fleshy, 2–3 mm in diameter, yellowish. Leaves in a basal rosette; blade lanceolate to linear, 115–200 cm × 2.5–3.5 cm, acuminate, margin toothed, strongly keeled, tough and fibrous, bright green. Inflorescence a lax to dense raceme 25–60 cm × 4–6.5 cm (1.8–3 m long including peduncle), elongating as the flowers open; peduncle 7–14 mm in diameter; bracts oblong to lanceolate, 5.5–11 mm × 1–2 mm, obtuse at the apex, with fimbriate-serrulate margins, brownish, persistent. Flowers red in bud, orange to bright red and yellow at the tips at anthesis, pendent, straight to slightly decurved; pedicel 3–6 mm long; perianth 25–38 mm long, constricted above the ovary into a long narrow tube 1–2 mm wide, then flared to 5–7 mm wide at mouth, with 6 narrow lobes 2–4 mm long; stamens 6, unequal, level with the tube or slightly exserted, anthers blackish; filaments yellow; ovary sessile, ovoid, 3-celled, style filiform, exserted, up to 12 mm in older flowers, yellow, stigma minute. Fruit an ovoid to trigonous capsule c. 6 mm × c. 6 mm. Seeds ovoid.
In DR Congo flowering occurs between December and July, in the more southern part of its distribution area the flowering period appears to be more definite, from March to May.
Kniphofia comprises about 70 species mainly in southern tropical Africa, with 2 species in Madagascar and 1 in Yemen.
In DR Congo Kniphofia princeae is usually found in grassland, forest margins, or in humid shrubby vegetation near streams. It occurs in the open and under shade and has been recorded at altitudes of (1600–)1800–3450 m; in the more southern part of its distribution area up to 2700 m.
Kniphofia princeae can be propagated by seed or vegetatively through rhizome division. Planting at the beginning of the rainy season gives better results than planting later. Plants obtained through rhizome division flower much earlier than those grown from seed.
Genetic resources and breeding
Kniphofia princeae is fairly widespread and locally common. There are no indications that it is in danger of genetic erosion.
Kniphofia princeae will probably remain of occasional local use only.
• Kativu, S., 2001. Asphodelaceae. In: Pope, G.V. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 12, part 3. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. pp. 25–48.
• Marais, A., 1973. A revision of the tropical species of Kniphofia (Liliaceae). Kew Bulletin 28: 465–483.
• Latham, P., 2007. Plants visited by bees and other useful plants of Umalila, southern Tanzania. Third edition. P.Latham, DFID, United Kingdom. 216 pp.
• Whitehouse, C., 2002. Asphodelaceae. In: Beentje, H.J. & Ghazanfar, S.A. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 20 pp.
• Ramdhani, S., Barker, N.P. & Baijnath, H., 2008. Exploring the Afromontane centre of endemism: Kniphofia Moench (Asphodelaceae) as a floristic indicator. Journal of Biogeography 35: 2258–2273.
Correct citation of this article:
Oyen, L.P.A., 2011. Kniphofia princeae (A.Berger) Marais. In: Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes à fibres. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.