Mother-in-law’s tongue

Stylish spikes that filter the air

While you’re enjoying this fantastic decorative plant, it’s working very hard. Mother-in-law’s tongue (sanseveria) does everything it can to sort out the humidity in your home, so that your skin, eyes and airways can also enjoy the plant. It converts poisonous substances into oxygen. And it’s also incredibly strong and easy to care for. This desert plant has a readily adapted to life in the living room. If you happen to be going on a business trip to Korea soon, it’s handy to know that business partners are welcomed there with these stylish spikes. In African countries you often come across baskets made from the leaves of mother-in-law’s tongue. 

Mother-in-law’s tongue - Thejoyofplants.co.uk

Colours and shapes

Do you like a bit of choice? That’s lucky, because there are some 70 different species of mother-in-law’s tongue. They're characterised by the grey-green colour with stripes, spots and yellow edges. If you’d like the plant to be a bit darker, place it further from the window. Lighter? Then move it closer to the window. The leaves are firm spikes that appear to stick straight up out of the soil. These sizeable spikes usually don’t grow higher than 1 m. But they do grow very vigourously. The pot can even crack if it’s not big enough. You don’t often see the flowers, but if they appear they will reward your patience with a lovely sweet fragrance. 

Symbolism

The leaf’s sharp spike represents the sharp tongue of women in general, and mothers-in-law in particular. If you’ve just wrapped one up for your partner’s lovely mum, make sure to mention that you’re not trying to say anything bad. 

Origin

Mother-in-law’s tongue is used to a bit of warmth, since it comes from the deserts of Ethiopia, amongst other places. Naturalist Carl Peter Thunberg brought it back in 1794 and named it after the Italian Prince Raimondo di Sangro, who came from San Severo. Other species arrived here after 2004.