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Family Agavaceae
Sansevieria trifasciata Prain
Qian sui lan

Scientific names Common names
Aletris hyacinthoides var. zeylanica L. Tigre (Tag.)
Sansevieria craigii auct. Buntot-tigre (Tag..)
Sansevieria jaccquinii N.E.Br. Mother-in-law's tongue (Engl.)
Sansevieria laurentii De Wild. Snake plant (Engl.)
Sansevieria trifasciata Prain St. George's Sword (Engl.)
Sansevieria zeylanica var. laurentii (De Wild.) L.H.Bailey Viper's bowstring hemp (Engl.)
Tigre (Sanseviera trifasciata) is often confused with buntot-tigre (Sansevieria roxburghiana). Some compilations list them as synonyms.
Sansevieria trifasciata Prain is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
BRAZIL: Espada de sao jorge.
CHINESE: Qian sui lan, Hu wei lan.
FRENCH: Langue de belle-mere.
INDONESIAN: Lidah buaya, letah bayawak, lidah mertua.
JAPANESE: Tora no o.
NETHERLAND: Vrouwentong.
SINHALESE: Maha-niyanda.
SPANISH: Espada de Sao Jorge.
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.

Sanseviera 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.

- Widely distributed in towns and cities throughout the Philippines.
- Introduced.
- Native to India.

- Mostly ornamental cultivation.

- 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

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


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)
• 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)


Updated August 2019 / May 2017 / May 2013

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

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
Sansevieria trifasciata / Synonyms / The Plant List
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

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, 07 Jun 2012, 142 (3): 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

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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