The agapanthus flower is a small genus of between 6 and 10 species which are separated into several different classifications, and is a member of the agapanthaceae family. These flowers – which are sometimes referred to as lily of the Nile – are summer blooming and native to South Africa. Although most of the naturally occurring agapanthus flowers come in shades of blue and white, many hybrids may be seen in a variety of hues, from a light pink to a rich, dark purple. The structure of the agapanthus flower consists of a large, globe-like head – occasionally called a cyme – that can carry up to 100 small, tubular florets. The blossoming cymes grow atop a long, erect scape, from which curved, lance-shaped basal leaves grow.
The agapanthus flower has long been prized as both a medicinal and magical plant. Both the Xhosa and Zulu tribes of South Africa often use this plant for childbearing purposes. The Xhosa women create medicine for prenatal care to ensure healthy children, while the Zulu women mix this flower with other herbs and plants – not only to aid in the healthy growth of their new child, but also to induce labor. In addition to aiding in healthy pregnancy, these flowers are also used to treat heart disease, respiratory ailments, paralysis, fevers and even sore feet. Despite their many strong medicinal properties, it is important to note that the sap of these flowers may cause oral ulcerations and haemolytic poisoning, so it is vital to be cautious when using them. The magical uses of the agapanthus flower mainly consist of the creation of charms. Going back to the Xhosa tribe, many people create earthy necklaces out of the dried root, using them as talismans to bring about strong, healthy babies. Charms are also created as emblems of love, and to protect the meek from vicious storms and thunder.
Given the fact that the name of this flower is made up of two Greek words – agape and anthes, which mean flower and love respectively – it is not surprising that these blossoms are frequently presented as a unique alternative to the usual romance flowers. They are also sometimes associated with fertility and childbirth, and are occasionally presented to new mothers. As well as giving these flowers in a traditional bouquet or arrangement, they may also be presented as beautiful pressed flowers, perhaps alongside a greeting card, love letter or poem.