Scientific Name
Hypoxis hemerocallidea Fisch., C.A.Mey. & Avé-Lall.
Higher Classification
Hypoxis obconica Nel, Hypoxis patula Nel, Hypoxis rooperii T.Moore
Common Names
Gifbol (a), Inkomfe (z), Kaffertulp (a), Lotsane (ss), Moli Kharatsa (ss), Star-flower (e), Sterblom (a), Yellow Star (e)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
V.L. Williams, D. Raimondo, N.R. Crouch, J.E. Victor, A.B. Cunningham, C.R. Scott-Shaw, M. Lötter, A.M. Ngwenya & Y. Singh
Extensive commercial exploitation since 1997 has caused declines in some subpopulations, especially in Gauteng, South Africa, where it is additionally threatened by habitat loss and degradation. This species is however naturally abundant and widespread and therefore not considered in danger of extinction.
Not endemic to South Africa
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West
This species is widespread across northern and eastern South Africa, extending to Botswana, eSwatini (Swaziland) and Mozambique.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Albany Thicket, Grassland, Indian Ocean Coastal Belt, Savanna
It occurs in a wide range of habitats, including sandy hills on the margins of dune forests, open, rocky grassland, dry, stony, grassy slopes, mountain slopes and plateaus. It appears to be drought and fire tolerant.
The corm is consistently heavily harvested for the medicinal plant trade throughout South Africa. The species became especially popular from 1997 following an article in DRUM magazine claiming that it was South Africa's "miracle muthi" and effective in treating the immune system of HIV sufferers (Hawker et al. 1999). The species is often used interchangeably with H. colchicifolia, and in 1994 66% of the muthi shops sold Hypoxis sp. (Williams 2007). In 2001, 40% of traders in the Faraday market sold it and had the equivalent of 18 bags (50kg-size) during the survey (Williams 2007). Williams et al. (2007) estimated that at least 62 000 to 170 000 individual bulbs are sold annually in the Witwatersrand markets. Similarly large quantities are traded in the KwaZulu-Natal markets (Cunningham 1988). In the Eastern Cape, it is heavily traded, unsustainably harvested and sold at high prices (Dold and Cocks 2002). In 1998 M. Pfab (pers. comm.) reported that people with a commercial interest in the species were prepared to pay R1000 for a bakkie load of corms. Land transformation and habitat loss in Gauteng is also a threat to the species.

This species is naturally widespread and abundant, and in spite of extensive volumes of wild harvesting, is still considered common across most of its range. Monitoring is however needed to gain a better understanding of the impact of harvesting on the risk of extinction of this species.

Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Hypoxis patula NelVU D2Raimondo et al. (2009)
Hypoxis hemerocallidea Fisch., C.A.Mey. & Avé-Lall.Declining Raimondo et al. (2009)
Hypoxis obconica NelLeast Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)
Hypoxis patula NelVU D2Victor (2002)

Cunningham, A.B. 1988. An investigation of the herbal medicine trade in Natal/KwaZulu. Investigational Report No. 29. Institute of Natural Resources, Pietermaritzburg.

Dold, A.P. and Cocks, M.L. 2002. The trade in medicinal plants in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 98:589-597.

Hawker, L.C., Lumley, M., Swartz, P., Buckas, E., Nichols, G., Crouch, N., Prentice, C. and Singh, Y. 1999. Growing a hot potato. Notes on the cultivation and propagation of Hypoxis hemerocallidea. PlantLife 21:34-36.

Nordal, I. and Zimudzi, C. 2001. Hypoxidaceae. In: G.V. Pope (ed). Flora Zambesiaca 12 (Part 3):1-18. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Raimondo, D., von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. and Manyama, P.A. 2009. Red List of South African Plants. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

Singh, Y. 2006. Hypoxis (Hypoxidaceae) in Africa: list of species and infraspecific names. Bothalia 36(1):13-23.

Singh, Y. 2009. Systematics of Hypoxis (Hypoxidaceae) in southern Africa. Unpublished PhD, University of Pretoria, Pretoria.

Victor, J.E. 2002. South Africa. In: J.S. Golding (ed), Southern African plant Red Data Lists. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report 14 (pp. 93-120), SABONET, Pretoria.

Williams, V.L. 2007. The design of a risk assessment model to determine the impact of the herbal medicine trade on the Witwatersrand on resources of indigenous plant species. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Williams, V.L., Balkwill, K. and Witkowski, E.T.F. 2007. Size-class prevalence of bulbous and perennial herbs sold in the Johannesburg medicinal plant markets between 1995 and 2001. South African Journal of Botany 73(1):144-155.

Williams, V.L., Raimondo, D., Crouch, N.R., Victor, J.E., Cunningham, A.B., Scott-Shaw, C.R., Lötter, M., Ngwenya, A.M. & Singh, Y. 2019. Hypoxis hemerocallidea Fisch., C.A.Mey. & Avé-Lall. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2023/12/08

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Distribution map

© H. Mtshali

© H. Mtshali

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