Sansevieria ehrenbergii

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Sansevieria ehrenbergii
Sansevieria ehrenbergii 3.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Nolinoideae
Genus: Sansevieria
Species: S. ehrenbergii
Binomial name
Sansevieria ehrenbergii
Schweinf. ex Baker

Sansevieria ehrenbergii (blue sansevieria, sword sansevieria, oldupai, or East African wild sisal) is a flowering plant which grows in northeastern Africa from Libya south to Tanzania, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. It occurs notably in proliferation along the Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania. Mature leaves are dark green and usually range between 0.5 and 1.5 m in length and 2.45 and 8.0 cm in width. The plant grows in tight clusters and in close proximity amongst itself.


In 1911, the German entomologist Wilhelm Kattwinkel, while searching for butterflies, stumbled into a gorge. He asked the indigenous Maasai people what the gorge was called. They did not understand what he was saying and thought he was referring to the plants Sansevieria ehrenbergii, to which they responded oldupaai. Kattwinkel misinterpreted and mispronounced what they were saying by referring to the gorge as "Olduvai Gorge".

Human Use[edit]

The Maasai have used S. ehrenbergii for antiseptics, natural bandages, rope, baskets, roofs and clothes. During the 1970s, paleoanthropologist Bill Montagne was working in Olduvai Gorge and became injured. He received treatment in the form of a natural bandage made from S. ehrenbergii, after which he was so impressed, he began pharmaceutical research.

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