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Products > Sansevieria ehrenbergii
Sansevieria ehrenbergii - Sword Sansevieria
Image of Sansevieria ehrenbergii
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Asparagaceae (~Liliaceae)
Origin: Angola (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Infrequent
Synonyms: [Dracaena hanningtonii]
Height: 4-6 feet
Width: 3-4 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Sansevieria ehrenbergii (Sword Sansevieria) - A succulent with a short stem, up to 8 to 12 inches, that rise up from stout rhizomes and holds long leaves in two opposite rows, forming a sparse fan shaped rosette. The light blue-green leaves can be up to 5 feet long by 3 inches thick and are rounded in cross section with a grooved channel on the inner side and a sharp tip.

Plant in part sun in a well-drained soil and irrigate sparingly, particularly in winter months and protect from temperatures much below 30F - given our winter rainfall and temperatures, this plant is best planted under an eave or elsewhere where it might not get rained upon and can be protected from frost. We have had this plant in our greenhouse since 2004 and have yet to notice it flower, but it can produce a tall well branched inflorescence with grayish-white flowers that are tinged purple. This plant is not for everyone, but it is a unique large Sansevieria that is sure to amaze some plant savvy people.

Sansevieria ehrenbergii is native to a wide area of Africa from Libya south to Tanzania but is also found in Yemen, Oman and Saudi Arabia on the Arabian Peninsula. It is found on rocky ground, out in the open or in the shade of trees or thickets. The name for the genus was originally Sanseverinia as named by the Italian botanist Vincenzo Petagna in honor of his patron, Pietro Antonio Sanseverino, the Count of Chiaromonte (1724-1771), but the name was altered for unknown reasons by the Swedish naturalist Carl Peter Thunberg, possibly influenced by the name of Raimondo di Sangro (17101771), prince of San Severo in Italy. The specific epithet honors Dr. Christian G Ehrenberg, a German botanist and professor at the University of Berlin who travelled through Egypt, Nubia, Abyssinia and Arabia from 182025. Sansevieria ehrenbergii was originally described by Georg August Schweinfurth, but the description did not meet the standards for a valid publication. A valid description was published in 1875 by John Gilbert Baker. Besides Sword Sanseveria , it is sometimes called Blue Sansevieria., Seleb Sansevieria, East African Wild Sisal, Somaliland Bowstring Hemp and in Tanzania it is referred to a "oldupai" in reference to the Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania. This gorge was actually mistakenly given this name by a naturalist who misunderstood the indigenous Maasai people when asked for the place name and apparently, they thought he was asking the name of this plant. Its leaves are aged and rotted down to produce fibers to make string or cloth. There is also dwarf cultivar in the trade that is called "Dwarf Samurai".

If one accepts that Sansevieria has been merged with Dracaena, then this plant would be renamed Dracaena hanningtonii but many do not accept this treatment of combining Sansevieria with Dracaena. This epithet honors James Hannington, the first Anglican bishop in East Africa and collector of plant in tropical Africa. He was murdered on the border of Uganda in 1885. Our plants came to us in 2004 with the Sansevieria collection of Alice Waidhofer and she purchased this plant from Abbey Gardens in Carpinteria, California in the mid-1980s. 

This information about Sansevieria ehrenbergii displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.