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Boophone is a small genus of herbaceous, perennial and bulbous plants in the Amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae, subfamily Amaryllidoideae.[2]) It consists of two confirmed species distributed across South Africa to Kenya and Uganda. It is closely related to Crossyne, a genus whose species have prostrate leaves.[3] They are drought tolerant but not cold-hardy, and are very poisonous to livestock.

Boophone disticha.jpg
Inflorescence of Boophone disticha
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Amaryllidoideae
Tribe: Amaryllideae
Subtribe: Boophoninae
Genus: Boophone
Herb.[1][full citation needed]

See text

  • Buphane Herb.
  • Boophane Herb.
Boophone disticha flowerhead with caterpillars of the Noctuid moth Diaphone eumela


Boophone is the single genus in subtribe Boophoninae, in the Amaryllideae tribe.


Boophoninae are placed within Amaryllideae as follows, based on their phylogenetic relationship:[citation needed]

Tribe Amaryllideae

Subtribe Amaryllidinae

Subtribe Boophoninae

Subtribe Strumariinae

Subtribe Crininae


The list of Boophone species, with their complete scientific name, authority, and geographic distribution is given below.[4]

Flowers Plant Scientific name Distribution
    Boophone disticha (L.f.) [5][full citation needed] From Sudan to South Africa
    Boophone haemanthoides Leight.[6] From Namibia to the Western Cape Province


William Herbert wrote the name of this genus with three different orthographies: "Boophane" in 1821; "Buphane" and "Buphone" in 1825, and he conserved "Boophone" in 1837. Several authors since then speculated about the etymology and associated orthography of each name, but a proposal was published in 2001 to conserve the first name and to take the later ones as synonyms.[7] This proposal was accepted in 2002.[8]

Associated insectsEdit

Larvae of the moth genera Brithys and Diaphone use Boophone as a food plant.

Traditional medicineEdit

Boophone disticha is used in South African traditional medicine by the Zulus to induce hallucinations for divinatory purposes, and also for various mental illnesses.[9] Its use, however, is limited by injuries that result from the plant's toxicity.[10] They have also been used as ingredients in traditional arrow poisons, and medicinal dressings for skin lesions.[11]


A variety of alkaloids with affinity for the serotonin transporter have been isolated from Boophone disticha.[12][13]


  1. ^ Appendix: 18 (1821).
  2. ^ Stevens, P.F. "Angiosperm Phylogeny Website: Asparagales: Amaryllidoideae"
  3. ^ Vigneron, P. (2000–2006). "Boophone". Amaryllidaceae organization.
  4. ^ Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. World Checklist of Monocotyledons: Boophone . Accessed May 16, 2009.
  5. ^ Herb. Bot. Mag. 52: t. 2578 (1825)
  6. ^ Leighton, Frances Margaret. Journal of South African Botany 13: 59. 1947.[full citation needed]
  7. ^ R. H. Archer; R. K. Brummitt; D. A. Snijman (2001). "Proposal to conserve the name Boophone Herbert with that spelling (Amaryllidaceae)". Taxon. 50 (2): 569–572. doi:10.2307/1223904.
  8. ^ Richard K. Brummitt. 2002. Report of the Committee for Spermatophyta: 53. Taxon, Vol. 51, No. 4 (Nov., 2002), pp. 795–799.
  9. ^ Stafford GI, Pedersen ME, van Staden J, Jäger AK (2008). "Review on plants with CNS-effects used in traditional South African medicine against mental diseases". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 119 (3): 513–37. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.08.010. PMID 18775771.
  10. ^ J. F. Sobiecki (2002). "A preliminary inventory of plants used for psychoactive purposes in southern African healing traditions". Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa. 57: 1–24. doi:10.1080/00359190209520523.
  11. ^ "Amaryllidaceae". Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  12. ^ Sandager M, Nielsen ND, Stafford GI, van Staden J, Jäger AK (2005). "Alkaloids from Boophane disticha with affinity to the serotonin transporter in rat brain". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 98 (3): 367–70. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2005.01.037. PMID 15814274.
  13. ^ Neergaard J, Andersen J, Pedersen ME, Stafford GI, van Staden J, Jäger AK (2009). "Alkaloids from Boophone disticha with affinity to the serotonin transporter". South African Journal of Botany. 72 (2): 371–4. doi:10.1016/j.sajb.2009.02.173.