Hypoxis (Star Grass)
Hypoxis is a genus of about 90 species of perennials in the family Hypoxidaceae, native to Africa, Asia, Australia and Americas. Hypoxis is recognizable by its strap-like leaves and bright yellow star-like flowers which appear in the spring or early summer. The flowers usually have six tepals, rarely 4 or 8, held on stalks that are about the height of the leaves. Hypoxis plants are short-lived and are pollinated by solitary and honey bees.
The genus name is derived from the Greek words "hypo", meaning "below" and "oxy", which means "sharp" or "pointed", referring to the ovary which is pointed at the base.
The common name comes from the shape of the plant. However, it is not a true grass, despite the common name.
Hypoxis symbolizes health.
Interesting facts about Hypoxis:
The plant has a long history of medicinal use on the African continent. It has been used in the treatment of urinary infections, heart weakness, internal tumours, nervous disorders, diabetes and other diseases.
Some species are used as a medical supplement for the treatment of AIDS. In South Africa, it has even been recommended by a former Minister of Health for inclusion in the daily diet of HIV patients. However, these properties may cause extinction of some species, due to their overcollection.
Hypoxis is well known for its immune-boosting properties.
Hypoxis hemerocallidea is one of the most popular species in this genus. Its leaves are used to make ropes and hat trimmings. The leaves are also used to produce a black dye.