Snake Plant, as the plant with the scientific name Sansevieria is commonly known, is a species of herbaceous plant that belongs to the Asparagaceae family. It is native to the Asian and African continent, although it has now spread throughout the world due to its ease of cultivation, decorative use and medicinal properties. Nowadays, it’s commonly used as an indoor plant to purify the air at home.
The etymology of the word Sansevieria came from Thunberg, the Swedish botanist who named the plant after Raimondo di Sangro, the seventh prince of Sansevero. However, its discoverer Vincenzo Pentaga intended to name it ‘Sanseverinia’ in honor of Pietro Antonio Sanseverino, the Duke of Chiaromonte known for founding an exotic plant garden in Italy.
Characteristics of the Snake Plant
Snake Plant or cow’s tail is a green plant, with leaves similar to the shape of a sword or pointed tongue. They are thick and have a yellow border at the ends. This plant can grow up to 240 centimeters and has few leaves.
Taxonomy: it is from the Plantae kingdom, Liliopsida class (Lilidae subclass), Asparagales order of the Asparagaceae family and Sansevieria genus.
Name: its name comes from the long and pointed shape of its leaves, since it is similar to snakes.
Common names: it is also known as tiger or cow tongue, cow or tiger tail, St. George’s sword, lizard tail and snake plant.
Size and width although in houses and gardens are usually between 30 and 90 centimeters, in their natural habitat can reach up to two meters high. The width is between 5 and 6 centimeters.
Leaves: they are strong, grow vertically and have a leathery consistency (texture similar to leather) due to their adaptation to warm climates. Although they can vary according to the species, the best known are dark green with shades of light green and gray, and yellowish edges.
Care: It is not a plant that requires excessive care because it is resistant to most pests and fungi, so a basic care is enough, in case of fungi, just remove the affected leaves is enough.
Development: it usually develops slowly and can produce three to four new leaves during the year.
Resistance: it is a long-lived and perennial plant, so it is capable of maintaining its shape throughout the year and can live more than 24 months. In addition, due to its origin in dry soils is able to withstand virtually all conditions except winter.
Species: although there are dozens of species, the most popular are Sansevieria Trifasciata, Laurentii and Zylanica.
It is considered to be the ideal plant for interior spaces; since it easily adapts to non-constant sun exposure and low humidity in the environment.
Habitat - Where does Sansevieria grow?
As mentioned at the beginning of the entry, the Snake Plant is native to tropical Africa (specifically Kenya and Angola), making it resistant to hot climates with little need for water during its lifetime. It is also found in some regions of Asia.
However, due to its extensive use today it is possible to find it all over the world, mainly indoors.
As far as cultivation is concerned, tiger tongue is capable of growing in practically all terrains since, as we have mentioned, it easily adapts to environmental conditions except for cold or icy weather, where it must be kept indoors.
Snake Plant flower
This plant rarely flowers because it is not in its natural habitat, as it has problems producing flowers and seeds when conditions are not optimal. However, this plant has a flower that grows upwards from its center, is white in color, has a delicate aroma and has small seeds that are ideal for cultivation.
They are also characterized by being actinomorphic (they have radial symmetry), bisexual, small in size and arranged in clusters.
Species and varieties of Sansevieria
There is a great variety of the Snake Plant plant that offers us other presentations that go from the typical St. George’s sword, to small rosettes. Although more than 100 species have been found, the most popular are
Sansevieria trifasciata, with flat leaves and is divided into three types: laurantil, Hahnni and Golden Hahnni. This is the most used at present and usually has a size from 30 to 90 centimeters high.
Sansevieria cylindrica, with cylinder-shaped leaves and usually reaches one meter in height.
Sansevieria zeylanica, a smaller variety (from 30 to 60 centimeters) and characterized by its white edges.
S. TRIFASCIATA GOLDEN HAHNNI
S. TRIFASCIATA LAURANTIL
Snake Plant has several uses, among which we find the following
Decoration and Feng Shui
The main use of Snake Plant is ornamental, especially in modern interior decorations due to its vertical growth (at least Sansevieria trifasciata). Thanks to its resistance to pests, easy cultivation and little need for care, it is the ideal plant for those less experienced in botany or gardening.
Because of its shape it is ideal to reach colorful and elegant areas of the house of little interest.
It serves to balance the spaces of the home with horizontal decoration.
According to the Feng Shui the snake plant is a plant that manages to scare the bad energies and attracts the good vibes to the home.
The use of the medicinal properties of Sansevieria is also highlighted, among which we find:
The consumption can be used to cure the swelling of the liver, spleen and kidneys; as well as to help heal wounds and fight psychiatric diseases such as panic, schizophrenia and fears.
Finally, it is used by many to help prevent diseases such as cancer or treat diabetes.
To prepare the juice of this plant it is necessary to use one of its leaves to crush with a little water. The recommended amount is between one and two tablespoons a day. However, before self-medicating it is preferable to consult with a specialist.
The hemp or fiber of the plant is used for the manufacture of hammocks or the creation of arcs, since this one serves as rope for the same ones.
It stands out for being able to process carbon dioxide to convert it into oxygen more than other plants. That is why NASA recommends growing them inside the home.
How to grow Snake Plant
Snake Plant is very easy to cultivate, which is why it has become so popular. To do so, it is only necessary to consider certain factors, among which we find the temperature, light, irrigation, soil and humidity.
Light: this plant prefers exposure to light, so if you plant indoors it is advisable to move it to the sun from time to time or place it in an area where it receives sunlight (but not permanently).
Temperature: it is somewhat indifferent because it can withstand most climates, except winter (place indoors if the temperature drops below -3°C).
Humidity: since it originates from dry and hot areas, it is not necessary to spray water on the leaves, since it supports the dry atmosphere inside the home.
Watering: like the previous point, its habitat is dry, so it is usually watered sporadically. In hot months about twice a month and in winter once a month.
Soil: it must have good drainage to avoid waterlogging and it is recommended to add cactus fertilizer.
The reproduction of the snake plant can be in three different ways: dividing the plant, cutting the leaves or through its seeds. It is recommended to perform any of these steps in spring or summer.
Dividing consists of removing the plant from the pot, using a disinfected knife to cut the rhizome, and sowing it in another pot while waiting for it to take root.
The leaf cutting method also requires a disinfected knife, with which the leaf is cut into pieces of approximately 5 centimeters in length and planted.
Finally, the other option is through your seeds in case they have flowered or have been purchased.
A Snake Plant or St. George’s sword requires little care. These include being in a place where it can receive sunlight, a warm environment and hydration when the plant’s soil is dry.
If the plant does not receive enough sunlight (since it is normally a houseplant) it will not be able to stand upright, as it should. Instead, the leaves will lean towards the place where they are receiving the scarce solar rays.
It is important not to give this plant more water than it needs because it can bring fungus into your soil. Also, stagnant water causes the roots of the Snake Plant to begin to rot.
Among the plagues and diseases of the Snake Plant we find
The insect cochinilla algodonosa (cotton mealybug).
The fungi dusty mildew, Gloeosporium and Fusarium moniliforme.
The bacteria Erwinia carotovora.
To eliminate the snails, one can use chemical or natural products. The cotton mealybug can be fought with methyl alcohol. In the case of fungi, it is recommended to eliminate the affected leaves and to add fungicides; while for the bacteria, bactericides must be applied.
In addition to Snake Plants, there are other types of plants that will clean the air of your home. Each of them has different qualities and is best used in a specific room. For example there are plants that are ideal in your bedroom, whereas others are best in the kitchen. That depends on the type of pollutant that each type of plant cleans best. To get more information, visit our article on indoor plants to clean the air.
Also, if you are interested in cleaning the air of your home, you can visit our page on air purifiers in the UK.