Herb: Smallflower Soapplant

Latin name: Chlorogalum parviflorum

Family: Hyacinthaceae

Edible parts of Smallflower Soapplant:

Bulb - cooked. A slow baking will remove any soapiness in the taste. The bulbs can be very large and are up to 15cm in diameter.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Dry open places.

Propagation of Smallflower Soapplant:

Seed - sow spring or summer 2mm deep in a peat/sand mix. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 6 months at 15C, but it can be slow and erratic. Sow the seed thinly so that the seedlings do not need to be thinned and grow them on in the pot for their first year of growth, giving an occasional liquid feed o ensure that they do not become mineral deficient. When dormant, pot up 3 young bulbs per pot and grow them on for at least another 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the spring. Division of offsets when the bulb dies down in late summer. Larger offsets can be planted out direct into their permanent positions but it is best to pot up the smaller bulbs and grow them on for at least a year in the greenhouse.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry open places.

Medicinal use of Smallflower Soapplant:

None known

Known hazards of Chlorogalum parviflorum:

The bulb contains saponins. Although fairly toxic, these substances are very poorly absorbed by the body and most of them simply pass straight through. Saponins are found in a number of common foods, including many beans. They are destroyed by thorough cooking. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.