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What Is Nerine Bowdenii?

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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2016
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Nerine bowdenii is a species of flower belonging to the lily family. Native to South Africa, this plant is now grown in many parts of the world. The nerine bowdenii is perhaps best known for its brightly-colored pink and purple flowers, which feature a distinct shape that resembles a spider, or fireworks. This perennial is often used to create a vegetative border around a garden, and also serves as a popular addition to rock gardens. The nerine bowdenii is known by a number of common names, including cape flower, Japanese spider lily, and Guernsey lily.

These flowers grow to a height of 14 to 20 inches (26 to 51 cm). They also tend to spread out underground, and should be planted at least 1 foot (30 cm) apart to ensure adequate space for roots. Most sources recommend planting the nerine bowdenii bulbs at least 8 inches (20 cm) deep. They can be planted in the late summer or early fall, but should only be placed in the ground when temperatures are still relatively warm.

These plants require full sun, but are unlikely to thrive in very hot, tropical conditions. They can survive through substantial periods of drought, and tend to require watering only during the spring and summer months. They produce leaves only during the spring and summer, and are fairly bare during the rest of the year. The flowers of the nerine bowdenii bloom for several weeks during the peak of the summer season.

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Each plant produces approximately eight flowers, which feature a distinct trumpet-like profile. The flowers each have six petals with wavy edges, giving them the appearance of a fireworks display in the sky. The blooms of the nerine bowdenii are bright pink or purple in color, making them an excellent way to liven up a plain garden. They also last for several days after they have been cut, allowing gardeners to display them in vases in the home for a period.

The bulds of the nerine bowdenii are very large. Some measure as large as 5 or 6 inches (12 to 14 cm) in diameter. Modern research suggests that these bulbs may provide substantial health benefits. For example, studies suggest that alkaloids from these bulbs may help to improve attention and memory. These types of studies could help scientists find more effective ways to treat patients with Alzheimer's disease and other attention or memory-related disease.

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