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Family Agavaceae
Dracaena trifasciata (Prain) Mabb.
Qian sui lan

Scientific names Common names
Dracaena trifasciata (Prain) Mabb. Tigre (Tag.)
Sansevieria trifasciata Prain Buntot-tigre (Tag..)
Accepted infraspecifics Devil's tongue (Engl.)
Dracaena trifasciata subsp. sikawae (RH Webb & Yinger) Webb & Thd. Mother-in-law's tongue (Engl.)
Dracaena trifasciata subsp. trifasciata Snake plant (Engl.)
  St. George's Sword (Engl.)
  Viper's bowstring hemp (Engl.)
Tigre (Sanseviera trifasciata) is often confused with buntot-tigre (Sansevieria roxburghiana). Some compilations list them as synonyms.
Dracaena trifasciata (Prain) Mabb. is an accepted name. Kew: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
AFRIKAANS: Skoonma-se-tong.
BRAZIL: Espada de Sao Jorge.
CHINESE: Qian sui lan, Hu wei lan.
FINNISH: Isoanopinkieli.
FRENCH: Langue de belle-mere.
HAUSA: Guru, Moodaa.
INDONESIAN: Lidah buaya, letah bayawak, lidah mertua.
JAPANESE: Tora no o.
LUXEMBOURGISH: Schweiermammszongen.
MALAY: Lidah biawak.
NETHERLAND: Vrouwentong.
NORWEGIAN: Svigermorstunge.
PORTUGUESE: Espada de Sao Jorge, Espada de Santa Barbara, Lingua-de-sogra, Rabo de lagarto.
SINHALESE: Maha-niyanda.
SPANISH: Lengua de vaca, Culebrilla.
SWEDISH: Svärmorstunga, Svärmors tunga.
THAILAND: Waan hang suea, Waam chakhe, Lin naakkharaat.
TURKEY: Pasa kilici.
VIETNAM: H[ood] v[ix], L[uw][owx]i c[oj]p s[oj]c, Ho vi mep la vang.

Gen info
- Taxonomy change: In the sometimes confusing landscape of taxonomy, some plants in the compilation have moved to new families and genera, often with changes in synonyms.
- Sansevieria was once a historically recognized genus of flowering plants. It is now included in the genus Dracaena on the basis of molecular phylogenetic studies. In the APG III classification, Dracaena is placed in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Nolinoideae (formerly family Ruscaceae). It has also been placed in the former family Dracaenaceae.
- Dracaena is a genus of about 120 species of trees and succulent shrubs.
- Dracaena  trifasciata is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae. Until 2017 it was under the synonym Sansevieria trifasciata. (27)
- Etymology: The genus name Dracaena is derived from Greek drakaina, meaning "female dragon".
The red stems often found in Dracaena liken it to the color of dragon blood. Trifasciata means "three bundles" and refers to the way the flowers are grouped in threes. Sansevieria was named by biologist Vincenzo Petagna, in honor of his patron Pietro Antonio Sanseverino, Count of Chiaromonte, in whose garden Petagna saw the plant. (28)

Sansevieria trifasciata is an herbaceous, succulent, perennial plant, growing to a height of 90 centimeters. Leaves form a basal rosette, are flat, thick, leathery, sword-shaped, and variegated with grayish white transverse markings. Flowers are whitish green, up to 5 centimeters long.

Sansevieria trifasciata is commonly called the snake plant, because of the shape of its leaves, or mother-in-law's tongue because of their sharpness. It forms dense stands, spreading by way of its creeping rhizome, which is sometimes above ground, sometimes underground. Its stiff leaves grow vertically from a basal rosette. Mature leaves are dark green with light gray-green cross-banding and usually range between 70-90 cm in length and 5-6 cm in width. It has stiff sword-shaped leaves to 4 feet long by 2.75 inches wide. Leaves are banded yellow on either side with a deep green, lightly banded center. The flowers are greenish-white and are on 18-inch spikes in spring. (Flowers of India)

- Introduced.
- Widely distributed in towns and cities throughout the Philippines.
-- Mostly ornamental cultivation.
- Native to Cameroon, Central African Repu, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zaire.
- A rhizomatous geophyte growing primarily in seasonally dry tropical biome. (5)

- Yields sapogenin.
- Phytochemical screening of water and ethanol extracts yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, glycosides terpenoids, tannins, proteins, and carbohydrates.
- Phytochemical screening of leaves extract yielded flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids, phenols, steroids, and saponins. (see study below) (11)
- Phytochemical screening of ethanol extract of leaves and rhizomes yielded alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids, glycosides, tannins, sterols, and triterpenes.
- GC-MS analysis of leaves yielded phytol, stigmasterol, linoleic acid, oleic acid, stearic acid, and palmitic acid. (21)
- Study on n-butanol soluble fraction of methanol extract of S. trifasciata isolated four new steroidal saponins, trifasciatosides A-D (1-4), three pairs of steroidal saponins, trifasciatosides E-J (5a, b-7a,b) including acetylated one, together with 12 known compounds. (see study below) (22)

- Detoxifying, heat-clearing.
- Studies have shown insecticidal, analgesic, antipyretic, air-purifying, anti-algae, anti-allergic, antibacterial, anthelmintic, antidiabetic,  antibacterial, anti-biofilm forming, anti-alopecia properties.

Parts used
Rhizomes, leaves.


- No recorded folkloric use in the Philippines.
- In China, decoction used for detoxification, as anti-inflammatory, and for treatment of sores and snake bites.
- Also used for boils, cough, bronchitis, traumatic injuries.
- In Sri Lanka, rhizomes used for coughs and colds; leaves used for snake bite.
• Bowstring hemp: Yields bowstring hemp, a strong plant fibers once used to make bowstrings.
• Rituals and superstitions:
A yellow-tipped cultivar is associated with Oya, the female Orisha of storms. (Orishas are spirits that play a key role in Yoruba religion of West Africa and several religions of the African diaspora.) In Nigeria, it is linked with Ogun, the Orisha of war, and used in rituals to remove the evil eye. In Brazil where it is called Espada de Sao Jorge, it links to Saint George, who by syncretism associates it with the Orisha Ogun. (27)


Air-Purifying Plant: Sansevieria trifasciata is in NASA's list of air-purifying plants, improving indoor air quality by passively absorbing toxins (formaldehyde, formaldehyde, trichlorethylene, xylene and toluene). (4) (8)
Analgesic / Antipyretic: Study of ethanol and water extracts of Sansevieria trifasciata leaves showed dose-dependent and significant (P<0.05) increase in pain threshold in the tail-immersion test. The water extract showed not significant effect on brewer's yeast-induced fever in rat; however the EtOH extract significant reversed yeast-induced pyrexia.(2)
Insecticide: Study evaluated the efficacy of insecticides on the growth of string beans. Study showed that Sansevieria trifasciata insecticides are as effective as commercial ones. (3)
• Fiber Extraction: Study reports on the extraction of fiber from S. trifasciata plant using water retting method. Results showed a fiber with good strength and fineness with low elongation. Results suggest a fiber source of good strength, with cost-effective and renewable source, with a potential for use in the manufacture of products like sacks, ropes, handicrafts, mattresses and other textile applications. (6) Study reports on a fibre extraction retting method and proximate chemical composition and physical properties such as tensile strength, elongation, diameter along with fibre, cellulose, lignin, and ash content. Observations suggest potential as source of fibre for textile and non-textile uses such as woven, nonwoven, composite, α-cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, nano-cellulose, and lignin-based products. (25)
• Treatment of Callosities of Fingers and Toes: Study evaluated the use of ointment formulation of S. trifasciata in the treatment of corns. Results showed extract of S. trifasciata can be a good alternative for the treatment of callosities of the fingers and toes. Increasing concentration did not cause irritation and also reduced recovery time. (7)
• Anti-Diabetic / Leaves: Study evaluated the effects of Sansevieria trifasciata leaf decoction on blood glucose levels and pancreatic ß-cells in alloxan induced hyperglycemic rats. Results showed all test doses of the leaves decoction decreased the level of blood glucose and increased the granule density in the ß-cells of the islets of Langerhans of alloxan induced diabetic rats. (9)
• Carbon Dioxide Absorption in Offices: Study evaluated the application of snake plant to absorb carbon dioxide in offices. At control room, empty room, the percentages of carbon dioxide absorption were 27.28, 28.36, 27.31, and 23.51 respectively for snake plant 5, 4, 3, and 2. (10)
• Anthelmintic / Leaves: Study evaluated the in vitro anthelmintic activity of Sansevieria trifasciata leaves extract against Fasciola hepatica. In-vitro assay showed different doses of the extract resulted in the death of the parasites at different mean time. (see constituents above) (11)
• Indoor Air Pollutant Ozone Reduction: Study evaluated three common indoor houseplants viz., Sansevieria trifasciata (snake plant), Chlorophyllum comosum (spider plant) and Epipremnum aureum (golden pothos) for effectiveness in reducing ozone concentrations in a simulated indoor environment. Ozone depletion rates were higher within chambers that contained plants than within control chambers without plants, but there were no plant species differences. (12)
• Mechanistic Explorations / Antidiabetic Potential / Leaves and Rhizomes: Study evaluated the mechanistic anti-diabetic potential of leaves and rhizomes of S. trifasciata. Flow cytometric data revealed the beneficial role of plant extract in preventing apoptotic cell death under hyperglycemic conditions and results of WB analysis showed reduced expressions of vascular inflammation markers. (13)
• Antibacterial: Study evaluated the potency of S. trifasciata methanol extracts and fractions through antibacterial testing against Gram negative (E. coli) and Gram positive (S. aureus) bacterial. The methanol extract showed no activity against the tested bacteria. Of 10 fractions, two showed activity for both test bacteria, five against Gram positive bacteria and three showed no activity. (14)
• Potential to Inhibit Algae Bloom: Malaysia is one of the countries that have been affected by harmful algae bloom (HAB) causing human health problems like food poisoning and loss to aquaculture industries. Study evaluated crude extracts obtained from fresh and dried material for potential to inhibit growth of HAB species i.e. A. tamiyavanichi and A. tamarense. Results showed removal efficiencies and suggests S. trifasciata has potential in mitigating HAB. (15)
• Antiallergic / Anti-Anaphylactic / Leaves: Study evaluated the antiallergic anti-anaphylactic activity of ethanolic extract of S. trifasciata on various animal models viz. milk induced eosinophilia and leukocytosis,compound 48/80 induced mast cell degranulation, active and passive cutaneous anaphylaxis and histamine induced pedal edema. Results showed promising antiallergic and anti-anaphylactic activity of EEST, together with potent antioxidant activity. Activity may be due to inhibition of release of chemical mediators from mast cells by phytoconstituents like steroidal saponins, triterpenoids, and flavonoids. (16)
• Toxicity Testing of Leaf and Root Parts: Study evaluated the toxicity level of S. trifasciata roots and leaves using brine shrimp lethality assay and ten-fold serial dilution of powdered plant material in artificial seawater. The toxic potential of the plant extracts was greater than the recommended LC50 value, with a positive linear relationship between concentrations of extract to the mortality rate using nauplii. The more concentrated the treatment, the higher the mortality. (17)
• Insecticidal Potential: Study showed the leaves and rhizomes can be a source of organic insecticides, cheaper, safer, and more effective than carbamate. (see constituents above) (18)
• Single-Dose Acute Toxicity Study / Leaves: Study evaluated the toxicity and safety of consuming chloroform extract of S. trifasciata leaf  in acute phase using female Wistar rats. During 14 days of experiment, neither mortality or sublethal toxicity effects were detected. There were no differences in body weight, biochemical parameters, and hematological profiles of treatment and control groups. Results showed a no-observed-adverse-effect-level (NOAEL) for a single dose administration of 2000 mg/kbw. (18)
• Comparative Phytochemical Contents / Dry and Fresh Leaves: A methanol extract of plant yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, saponins and cardiac glycosides. In fresh leaves, alkaloids and saponins were found to be abundant, while flavonoids, tannins, and cardiac glycosides were moderate. In oven dry leaves, alkaloids, tannins, and cardiac glycosides were moderate, flavonoids and saponin were trace. In room temperature dry leaves, flavonoids were trace, while alkaloids, tannins, saponins, and cardiac glycosides were moderate. (19)
• Antiulcerative Potential / LD50 Study / Leaves: Study evaluated the lethal dose (LD50) and antiulcerative potentials of S. trifasciata leaf extract. LD50 was determined as 774.60 mg/kbw and oral administration of 18,000 mg/kbw did not cause mortality or any negative behavioral changes in animals. Extract treated animals showed improvement against indomethacin induced ulceration as evidenced by effects on gastric volume, free acidity, total acidity, and pH. The extract showed 17.92% and 14.96% ulcer protective ability at 200 and 400 mg/kbw. (20)
• Trifasciatosides / Antiproliferative Against HeLa Cells: Study on n-butanol soluble fraction of methanol extract of S. trifasciata isolated four new steroidal saponins, trifasciatosides A-D (1-4), three pairs of steroidal saponins, trifasciatosides E-J (5a, b-7a,b) including acetylated one, together with 12 known compounds.  Compounds 2, 4, and 7a,b exhibited moderate antiproliferative activity against HeLa cells. (22)
• Antioxidant / Anti-Inflammatory / Cytotoxic / Analgesic / Leaves: Study evaluated an ethanolic extract of leaves of S. trifasciata for phytoconstituent and bioactivity. In DPPH scavenging assay, the extract revealed an IC50 of 2.19 µg/ml (standard 1.39 µg/ml). Total tannins and phenolic contents were 10.78 mg and 31.99 mg GAE/g of dried plant, respectively. In hemolysis test by hypotonic solution, the extract exhibited 39.27, 37.04, and 33.19% inhibition at 0.5, 1.0, and 2.0 mg/ml concentration with reference standard of 30.57% inhibition. In heat-induced hemolysis, extract exhibited 34.25% inhibition at 1 mg/ml. The extract showed potential dose dependent analgesic and cytotoxic activity. (23)
• Antibacterial / Anti-Biofilm Forming Activity/ Cytotoxic / Leaves: Study evaluated an ethanolic extract of S. trifasciata for antibacterial or anti-biofilm forming activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. MIC results showed a concentration of 4 mg/ml could inhibit bacterial growth and inhibit biofilm by 60%. GC-MS study revealed Neophytadiene as the main active extract component. (24)
• Anti-Alopecia Activity / Inhibition of Androgen Receptor/ Leaves: Study evaluated secondary metabolites from S. trifasciata and the inhibitory activity of bioactive compounds against androgen receptors (PDB ID:4K7A) assessed molecularly using docking and dynamic studies. LC-MX/MS analysis identified Methyl pyrophaeophorbide A (1), Oliveramine (2), (2S)-3′, 4′-Methylenedioxy-5, 7-dimethoxyflavane (3), 1-Acetyl-β-carboline (4), Digiprolactone (5), Trichosanic acid (6) and Methyl gallate (7) from subfraction of leaves. Three alkaloid compounds (1, 3, and 4) and one flavonoid (2) showed potency better than minoxidil. Four compounds were predicted to have better anti-alopecia activity than minoxidil in inhibiting androgen receptors through an insilico approach. (26)


Updated December 2022 / August 2019 / May 2017 / May 2013

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph: Sansevieria trifasciata "Laurentii" / Mokkie / CC by SA 3.0 / click on image to go to source page / Wikipedia

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Sansevieria trifasciata Prain / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED
Analgesic and Antipyretic Effects of Sansevieria Trifasciata Leaves / Jeba Sunilson J Anbu, P Jayaraj, R Varatharajan, John Thomas, James Jisha, and M Muthappan / Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2009; 6(4): pp 529–533 / PMCID: PMC2816473 / PMID: 20606773
The Effects of Sansevieria Insecticide on the Growth of String Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)
/ Solita Evangeline S. Bañez, Liza A. Castor / Iamure Multidisciplinary Research, Vol 1, No1, 2012
List of Air-Filtering Plants / Wikipedia
Dracaena trifasciata / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Extraction of Fiber from Sansevieria Trifasciata Plant and its Properties / Dr Rita Kant, Preeti Alagh / International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR), Vol 4, Issue 7, July 2015
Therapeutic Effects of Sansevieria Trifasciata Ointment in Callosities of Toes / Hamidollah Afrasiabian, Reza Hododi, Mohammad Hadi Imanieh & Alireza Salehi / Global Journal of Health Science, 2017; Vol. 9, No. 2 / DOI: 10.5539/gjhs.v9n2p264
NASA Clean Air Study / Wikipedia
Antidiabetic Effects of a Decoction of Leaves of Sansevieria trifasciata in Alloxan-Induced Diabetic White Rats (Rattus norvegicus L.) / Nur Qomariyah , Mulyati Sarto & Rarastoeti Pratiwi / ITB J. Sci., Vol. 44 A, No. 4, 2012, 308-316
Efficiency of Snake Plants Absorb Carbon Dioxide in Offices / Pajaree Thongsanit, Jirapat Ananpattarachai, Warangluck Sonklin, Ampol Techowanich, Phattaporn Jewyou and Atchara Kooktaisong / International Conference on Chemical, Metallurgy and Material Science Engineering (CMMSE-2015) August 10-11, 2015
In vitro anthelmintic activity of Sansevieria trifasciata leaves extract against Fasciola hepatica / Wambugu F. Karomo and Waweru W. Rwai / World Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2016; 4(11): pp 136-139
Effectiveness of Houseplants in Reducing the Indoor Air Pollutant Ozone / Heather L. Papinchak, E. Jay Holcomb, Teodora Orendovici Best and Dennis R. Decoteau / HortTechnology, April-June 2009, Vol 19, No 2, pp 286-290

Mechanistic Explorations of Antidiabetic Potentials of Sansevieria Trifasciata / Baishakhi Dey, Rupam Bhattacharjee, Analava Mitra, Rajeev K Singla, Abhisek Pal / Indo Global Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2014; 4(2): pp 113-122
/ ISSN: 2249-1023
Antibacterial Activity of Fractionated Extract of Sansevieria trifasciata / Yunita, Agnes, Sajuthi, Dondin, H. Suparto, Irma / Scientific Repository / http://repository.ipb.ac.id/handle/123456789/61782
The potential of ornamental plant, Sansevieria trifasciata to inhibit the growth of harmful algal bloom species. / Mohd Suberi, Ima Amirah and Mohammad Noor, Normawaty and Darnis, Deny Susanti and Mukai, Yukinori and Usup, Gires / International Conference on Applied Life Sciences (ICALS2014), 18-20 September 2014
Evaluation of antiallergic and anti-anaphylactic activity of ethanolic extract of Sanseveiria trifasciata leaves (EEST) in rodents. / Andhare RN , Raut MK , Naik SR / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2012; 142 (3): pp 627-633 / DOI: 10.1016/j.jep.2012.05.007
Preliminary Phytochemical Screening and Toxicity Test of Leaf and Root Parts of the Snake Plant Sanseviera trifasciata / Julie S Berame, Sheena Mae E Cuenca et al /  J Phylogenetics Evol Biol 2017, Vol 5(3) / DOI: 10.4172/2329-9002.1000187
Singe-dose Acute Oral Toxicity Study of Chloroform Extract of Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata Prain.) Leaf in Wistar Rats (Rattus norvegicus Berkenhout, 1769) / Laksmindra Fitria, Isma Cahya Putri Gunawan et al /Journal of Tropical Biodiversity and Biotechnology, 2022; 7(1) / eDOI: 10.22146/jtbb.69389 /
ISSN: 2540-9581
Comparative Analysis of the Phytochemical Contents of Dry and Fresh Leaves of Sansevieria trifasciata Prain / O T Umoh, V N Edet, V E Uyoh / Asian Journal of Research in Botany, 2020; 3(1)
Toxicity status and antiulcerative potential of Sansevieria trifasciata leaf extract in Wistar rats / Osasenaga Macdonald Ighodaro, Oyindamola Fuyi-Williams et al / J Intercult Ethnopharmacol., 2017; 6(2): pp 234-239 / PMID: 28512605 / DOI: 10.5455/jice.20170421103553
The Bioavailability Prediction and Screening Phytochemicals of Sansevieria trifasciata Leaves Extract / Nur Oomariyah, Gertian van Dijk / MATEC WEB Conf., 2022; Vol 372: Art No 02003 /
DOI: 10.1051/matecconf/202237202003
Trifasciatosides A-J, Steroidal Saponins from Sansevieria trifasciata / Remy Bertrand Teponno, Chiaki Tanaka, Bai Jie, Leon Azefack Tapondjou, Tomofumi Miyamoto / Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 2016; 64(9): pp 1347-1355 / DOI: 10.1248/cpb.c16-00337
Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Cytotoxic, and Analgesic Activities of Sansevieria trifasciata / Sagorika Sing Pinky,  Sirajum Monira, Md Akbar Hossain, Amir Hossain / Bangladesh Pharmaceutical Journal, 2020; 23(2) / DOI: 10.3329/bpj.v23i2.48341
Antibacterial and Anti-Biofilm Forming Activity of Secondary Metabolites from Sansevieria trifasciata Leaves Against Pseudomonas aeruginosa / Whika Dewatisari, Laurentius Hartanto Nugroho et al / Indonesian Journal of Pharmacy, 2022; 33(1) / DOI: 10.22146/ijp.2815
Extraction and Proximate Study of Sansevieria trifasciata L. as Fibre Source for Textile and Other Uses / ABM Abdullah, Maruf Abony, MT Islam, MS Hasan, MAK Oyon, Md Bokhtiar Rahman / Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Science / 2020; 46(2) / DOI: 10.3329/jasbs.v46i2.54411
Unrevealing the Potential of Sansevieria trifasciata Prain Fraction for the Treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia by Inhibiting Androgen Receptors Based on LC-MS/MS Analysis, and In-Silico Studies / Henny Kasmawati, Resmi Mustarichie, Nurramadhani A Sida et al / Molecules, 2022; 27(14): 4358 /
DOI: 10.3390/molecules27144358
Dracaena trifasciata / Wikipedia
Dracaena trifasciata / PlantHelpMe

DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

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