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Amabelejongosi ampofu

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Family: Orchidaceae

Scientific name: Eulophia speciosa

Authority: (R.BR. ex Lindl.) H. Bolus.

Synonyms: Cymbidium giganteum (L.f.) Sw., Cyrtopera gigantea (L.f.) Lindl., Epidendrum giganteum (L.f.) Poir.,  Eulophia austrooccidentalis Sölch, Eulophia leucantha (Kraenzl.) Sölch, Eulophia wakefieldii (Rchb.f. & S.Moore) Summerh., Lissochilus hereroensis Kraenzl., Lissochilus leucanthus Kraenzl., Lissochilus wakefieldii Rchb.f. & S.Moore, Satyruim giganteum L.f.

Zulu names: amabelejongosi, amabelejongosi ampofu, umabelejongosi ompofu, umlunge omhlophe

Other name: the beautiful Eulophia

Plant description: E. speciosa is an orchid that grows up to 1 m in height. It has fleshy lance-shaped leaves and bright yellow flowers with red (purple) marks on the tip. This orchid is widespread in the eastern parts of Africa (from Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania through to South Africa), occurring in the savanna, grassland, and sand dunes habitats.


  • The roots are edible and eaten raw or cooked. The roots are crushed with a little salt added for flavour. Sometimes the crushed roots are added to soups.  
  • The whole plant may be used to make an infusion used to protect against lightning and storms. 
  • The roots are used to make an infusion that is administered as an emetic for both humans and animals.
  • The roots are used to treat infertility.
  • The plant has been used extensively on postage stamps.
  • The plant is cultivated as an ornamental.

Safety precaution:

Using traditional medicine responsibly can enhance your overall health and well-being. Misuse and abuse can lead to complications. You can inquire about the correct use of traditional medicine from a knowledgeable herbalist and practitioner. You can also visit or email: to learn more about traditional medicine

References and further reading: 

  • Chinsamy, M., Finnie, J.F. and Van Staden, J., 2011. The ethnobotany of South African medicinal orchids. South African Journal of Botany, 77(1), pp.2-9.
  • Gerstner, J., 1941. A preliminary check list of Zulu names of plants: With short notes. Bantu studies, 15(1), pp.277-301.
  • Hulme, M.M., 1954. Wild flowers of Natal. Shuter & Shooter, Pietermaritzburg. 
  • Kurzweil, H., 2004. Eulophia speciosa (R. Br. ex Lindl.) Bolus (Orchidaceae).
  • Leffers, A., 2003. Gemsbok bean & Kalahari truffle: Traditional plant use by Jul’hoansi in north-eastern Namibia. Gamsberg Macmillan.
  • Pooley, E., 1998. A field guide to wildflowers: KwaZulu-Natal and the eastern region. Natal Flora Publ. Trust.

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