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Bulb: Gifbol (Boophane disticha)

Find, identify and discuss the plants of all the SANParks

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luisbyter
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Bulb: Gifbol (Boophane disticha)

Unread postby luisbyter » Fri Oct 06, 2006 8:46 pm

1. can you identify this?
2. what is/was it used for?

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Imberbe
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Unread postby Imberbe » Sat Oct 07, 2006 2:01 pm

It is the Bushman poison bulb / Gifbol / Boophane disticha.

As the name implies, it is one of the most poisonous plants in Southern Africa. It contains at least 11 different poisons.

It is useful for murder and suicide! :twisted:

Or for its medicinal purposes. Used as a pain treatment, a hallucinogen and was one of the main arrow poisons used by the bushmen.

A 2000 year old Khoi-san mummy was recently found that had been preserved by using the bulb.

Found in open grassland, it is widely distributed in Southern Africa and also further north.

It does not flower every year, and often only after a veld fire. But, just for you benefit :wink: , here is a photo we took yesterday in Rietvlei NR (Pretoria). :lol:

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arks
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Unread postby arks » Sat Oct 07, 2006 2:08 pm

Wow, Imberbe, that's beautiful. Is it a variety of amarylis?
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Imberbe
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Unread postby Imberbe » Sat Oct 07, 2006 2:16 pm

Yes, it is a part of the Amaryllidaceae.

And, despite it being so poisonous, two of my plants I had in the garden was killed by the (exotic) ammarulus worm last year.
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arks
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Unread postby arks » Sat Oct 07, 2006 2:44 pm

Thanks, Imberbe! Here amarylis are an exotic houseplant, but a favourite of mine. However, we just get the common (I guess) variety, usually one stalk per bulb with four large blooms. Very dramatic and cheerful during our long, grey winters! :wink:

Are all amarylis bulbs poisonous?
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luisbyter
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Unread postby luisbyter » Sun Oct 08, 2006 12:21 pm

Absolutely right, Imberbe.

This is a interesting case report that was published in "Human & Experimental Toxicology" May 2001 :

Poisoning with Boophane disticha: a forensic case.
du Plooy WJ, Swart L, van Huysteen GW.
Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Medical University of Southern Africa, Pretoria.

Scales from the bulb are traditionally used as wound dressing after circumcision and as general wound dressing. Concoctions of the bulb taken orally cause sedation, analgesia, visual hallucinations, irrational behaviour, coma or death. A man ingested 150 ml of a concoction to see who placed a spell on him. He started to hallucinate, thinking that somebody was attacking him. He pulled his gun and fired shots randomly, killing one person and injuring others. A gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer was used to analyze a sample of the concoction. The sample contained buphandrin, buphanine and crinamidine (alkaloids) and eugenol. Buphanine has a pharmacological action similar to that of hyoscine and, when ingested in toxic quantities, leads to excitement, agitation, hallucinations and coma. Eugenol is a volatile oil with analgesic properties. Although itcould not be proved that the concoction was only from Boophane disticha, the components were similar to those found in Amaryllidaceae to which Boophane belongs. The man's behaviour could be ascribed to the ingestion of compounds found in B. disticha.

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Imberbe
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Re: Plant ID needed

Unread postby Imberbe » Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:14 pm

:D This one is one of my favourites!!

It is called the Gifbol / Bushman poison bulb.

It is a typical grassland species. Its leaves are long and slender almost like that of an Aggapanthus, but in a fan like arrangement. The leaves are shed during the winter. The flowers appear early spring when the grasses are still low, making the most wonderful splashes of colour in the gray winter veld.

The bulb is prominent, always buried only up to half way. It has papery scales and looks as if it is shedding pieces of skin.

What makes this plant extra special is the fact that it contains at least ten different poisons. It has caused several human death by accidental exposure, murder and suicide. It is used in traditional medicine, but this is extremely dangerous, and has lead to numerous deaths. It is used to treat wounds.

As the name implies, it was used by the San people as a poison for their arrows.

A San mummy was discovered in the Eastern Cape, which was mummified by placing these scales all over the body. It is estimated to be 2000 years in age.

It makes a beautiful garden plant. I have three in my garden. (Along with some more of the most poisonous plants in SA)

This plant is but one example of the tremendous richness that lies buried in nature, which we haven't even begun to really discover, but which we are rapidly destroying. Our grassland areas are extremely rich in natural resources, but it is the area which is being fastest destroyed by human development.
Imberbe = Combretum imberbe = Leadwood = Hardekool = The spirit of the Wildernis!

Want to know more about the SANParks Honorary Rangers? Visit www.sanparksvolunteers.org


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