African Potato

Hypoxis – African Potato
Family: Hypoxidaceae
Common names

Yellow Stars
Star Lily
African Potato
Sterretjie
Afrika-patat
Inkomfe
Ilabatheka

Description
Hypoxis has a bright yellow star-shaped flower and broadly lance-shaped leaves. African potato plants are unbranched, with 2-12 flowers per stalk. The name Hypoxis comes from the Greek words hypo meaning below and oxy referring to the pointed base of the fruit.
Distribution
There are around 90 species of Hypoxis world-wide occurring in Africa, North and South America, southeastern Asia and Australia. There are approximately 40 species in Southern Africa. Hypoxis grows predominantly in grassland and prefers full sunlight. A few species grow in shady forests, and on cliff faces.
Cultural value
Two species, H. hemerocallidea and H. colchicifolia are the most sought after for their use in African traditional remedies as well as for preparation of herbal teas and tinctures. One species in particular, H. hemerocallidea (earlier name H. rooperi) named by experts as a ‘wonder herb’ and ‘miracle cure’, dominates the South African herbal industry.
Hypoxis helps to boost immune function, based on indirect evidence that sterols and sterolins in Hypoxis root have the potential to enhance immunity. Some believe its nutrient values are 50,000 times greater than modern vegetables. It is used to treat ailments such as the common cold, flu, cancer, arthritis, tumours, and HIV/AIDS.
Growing Hypoxis
Hypoxis is a hardy species with large corms and strong leaves. These plants are fairly easy to maintain once established in a garden. Seeds of Hypoxis germinate better if sown soon after maturity.