Scientific Name: Agapanthus praecox
- Order: Asparagales
- Family: Amaryllidaceae
- Genus: Agapanthus
- Species: A. praecox
Also known as blue lily or lily of the Nile (although it is native to South Africa), common agapanthus is a popular and magnificent flower. A long, sturdy stem rises into the air, topped by a large round cluster of lily-like flowers. It resembles a giant dandelion seed head, but the agapanthus flowers can range from white to blueish-violet. Around the base are smooth and sometimes leathery green leaves that can grow to about two feet tall. Agapanthus praecox has three subspecies: minimus, orientalis, and praecox. Like the columbine, the species of Agapanthus also often cross-pollinate, resulting in uniquely colored flowers.
The common agapanthus is used in Africa for both medical and magical practices. Although it is actually very poisonous, the Zulu and Xhosa people used agapanthus to treat diseases, aid in pregnancy, and even to keep thunder away. The leaves can also be wrapped around one’s feet while hiking. On the other hand, agapanthus is used to keep soil in place on slopes, because its roots can create an extensive and strong network underground.
In the Northern hemisphere, common agapanthus blooms in the summer, but it is the opposite in the Southern hemisphere. Since it blooms in the winter in Australia, the flower is actually a sign that Christmas is coming. In addition, we usually think of pollen as a powdery yellow substance, but the pollen of Agapanthus praecox is light purple in color!