Botanical Description

Habit: A tall, erect, perennial herb.


Leaves: Leaves simple, opposite-decussate, sometimes bi- or triĀ­foliate, upper ones sometimes up to 7-foliate, fleshy, petiolate, ovate, elliptic to elliptic-oblong, crenate, apex rounded to acute.

Inflorescence: Inflorescence a very long, paniculate cyme.

Flowers: Flowers pendulous, pedicellate, bisexual, actinomorphic. Sepals 4, united at the basal part into a calyx tube, up to 3 cm long, lobes 4, short. Petals 4, united into a long corolla tube, much exceeding the calyx tube, lobes 4, short, up to 1.7 cm long, acute.

Androecium: Stamens 8, in 2 series, from the base of the corolla tube, filaments up to 3.7 cm long, anthers basifixed, oblong, 2-celled.

Gynoecium:Carpels 4, apocarpous, each carpel with a short style and a stigma.

Fruits:Fruit a follicle.

Economic Importance: Leaves are applied to wounds, bruises and boils. The plant contains bryophyllin which is effective against many gram positive and gram negative bacteria. Bryophyllin shows strong in-vitro cytotoxic effect against KB-tumour cells. This plant is poisonous to cattle and sheep when eaten in large quantities. This was the first plant species where Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) was described.