Botswana: Flame Lily

Flame lily is a beautiful large red and purple flower, that seem quite out of space in the grasslands and savanna here in northern Botswana, as if somebody had planted it. The plant lies dormant most of the year during the dry season in underground tubers resembling sweet potatoes, and then shoots out with fresh rains climbing on the surrounding trees and bushes and reaching over 4m/12ft in length. The flowers are large and almost resemble the garden lily varieties. Interestingly, the entire plant is extremely poisonous and toxic and causes death if ingested in substantial quantities – in both humans and cattle. It is the national flower of the neighboring Zimbabwe, and was presented as a diamond brooch to Queen Elizabeth II when she visited. At least she wasn’t given the real flower or Britain would have cried foul about a poisoning attack.