Leopard Lily - Belamcanda chinensis Leopard Lily - Belamcanda chinensis
Foto: botanika.wendys.cz

Herb: Leopard Lily

Latin name: Belamcanda chinensis

Synonyms: Gemmingia chinensis, Ixia chinensis

Family: Iridaceae (Iris Family)

Medicinal use of Leopard Lily:

The leopard lily has a very long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine. It is a bitter cooling herb that acts mainly on the lungs and the liver, lowering fevers and reducing inflammation. It is effective against a number of bacterial, fungal and viral organisms and has also been used as an antidote to snakebites. The root contains several medically active constituents including flavonoids and isoflavonoids. It is analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, depurative, expectorant, febrifuge, pectoral, purgative, stomachic and tonic. It is used in the treatment of acute laryngitis, acute tonsillitis, oedema of the glottis and cough with profuse sputum. The juice of the root is used in Nepal to treat liver complaints, where it has the added benefit of improving the appetite. This juice is also used to abort a foetus during the first trimester of pregnancy. The root should not be prescribed for pregnant women. The root is harvested in the summer and autumn, and dried for later use.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

August to

Habitat of the herb:

Shrubberies and banks at the edge of cultivation in rich damp soils in the Himalayas.

Edible parts of Leopard Lily:

Leaves - cooked. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Other uses of the herb:

The root contains tannin.

Propagation of Leopard Lily:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Pre-chill stored seed for 7 days and sow spring in a cold frame. The seed germinates in 2 - 8 weeks at 20C. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. They can be planted out in early autumn and should flower in the following year. Division in spring or early autumn. Larger divisions can be planted straight into their permanent positions whilst smaller clumps are best potted up and kept in a cold frame until they are growing away well.

Cultivation of the herb:

Shrubberies and banks at the edge of cultivation in rich damp soils in the Himalayas.

Known hazards of Belamcanda chinensis:

The plant is slightly toxic.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.