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Image: Lisa Carns

Zamioculcas is a a tropical perennial plant native to eastern Africa.

Grows 45–60 centimetres (17.7–23.6 in) tall, from a stout underground, succulent rhizome.

The flowers are produced in a small bright yellow to brown or bronze spadix 5–7 centimetres (2.0–2.8 in) long, partly hidden among the leaf bases; flowering is from mid summer to early autumn.

May survive outdoors in temps 59 degrees and above. Hotter temps give better leaf production.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia may be propagated by leaf cuttings: typically, the lower ends of detached leaves are inserted into a moist gritty compost and the pot enclosed in a polythene bag. Though the leaves may well decay, succulent bulb-like structures should form in the compost and these may be potted up to produce new plants. The process may take upwards of one year. The plant can also be propagated by division.

The plant impresses especially by the thick, dark green, shiny leaves. Due to its strong green leaves, it is especially suitable for open, bright rooms.[8]

Usage in traditional medicine

Though little information is available, Z. zamiifolia is apparently used medicinally in the Mulanje District of Malawi and in the East Usambara mountains of Tanzania where juice from the leaves is used to treat earache.[9]

In Tanzania a poultice of bruised plant material from Z. zamiifolia is used as a treatment of the inflammatory condition known as “mshipa”.[10]

Roots from Z. zamiifolia are used as a local application to treat ulceration by the Sukuma people in north-western Tanzania.[11]

Air purification

The plant has air purifying qualities for the indoor environment. A Study from Department of Plant and Environmental Science at the University of Copenhagen from 2014 shows the plant is able to remove volatile organic compounds in this order of effectiveness: benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene at a molar flux of around 0.01 mol/(m2 day).[12]

Toxicity-Zamioculcas zamiifolia is part of the family Araceae, which includes many poisonous genera, such as Philodendron, which contains calcium oxalate.

Wikipedia

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