Kniphofia foliosa Hochst, (Asphodelaceae)


Kniphofia foliosa
ethnomedicinal use

How to Cite

Aladejana, E. B., & Musara, C. (2021). Kniphofia foliosa Hochst, (Asphodelaceae): Medicinal Uses, Phytochemistry and Pharmacological Properties. Journal of Pharmacy and Nutrition Sciences, 11, 13–19.


This review gives the first comprehensive appraisal of Kniphofia foliosa Hochst, from the plant family Asphodelaceae: its botany, ethnomedicinal (with particular emphasis on the African communities), phytochemistry, and pharmacological potential. Particular emphasis is given to the biological and chemical properties. Peer review and literature search were done by conducting a logical and inclusive review. Indigenous cultures have used the plant among different ethnic groups in tropical Africa for medicinal and other purposes. The chemical compounds that have been isolated from K. foliosa include monomeric anthraquinones such as chrysophanol, islandicin, laccaic acid, aloe-emodin, and aloe-emodin acetate, which contain antileukaemic properties; dimeric anthraquinones such as asphodelin, knipholone, and chryslandicin; phenyl anthraquinones and anthrones, including knipholone anthrone, isoknipholone anthrone, knipholone, phenylanthrone knipholone anthrone and anthraquinone isoknipholone; oxanthrones such as isofoliosone and foliosone; and rare dimeric phenylanthraqunones joziknipholones A and B. The pharmacological studies on K. foliosa exhibited antimalarial, antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-HIV-1, and anti-leukotriene activities. From the above, it can be deduced that K. foliosa contains chemical constituents of pharmacological importance, contributing significantly to the development of new medicines.


Armitage AM. Armitage’s garden perennials: a colour encyclopedia. Timber press inc., USA; 2000. pp 157.

Ramdhani S. Evolutionary and biogeographic studies in the genus Kniphofia Moench (Asphodelaceae). Dissertion, Rhodes University; 2006.

Bringmann G, Mutanyatta-Comar J, Knauer M, Abegaz BM. Knipholone and related 4-phenylanthraquinones: structurally, pharmacologically, and biosynthetically remarkable natural products. Nat Pro Rep 2008; 25: 696-718. 4] Bosch CH. Medicinal plants 1; plant resources of tropical Africa 11 (Schmeizer GH, Gurib-Fakim A. editors). Backhuys publishers/ CTA, Netherlands, 2008; 359.

Whitehouse C. Asphodelaceae. In: Beentje HJ. (Ed.), Flora of Tropical East Africa. Balkema Publishers, Roterdam; 2002.

Ramdhani S, Barker NP, Baijnath H. Exploring the Afromontane centre of endemism: Kniphofia Moench (Asphodelaceae) as a floristic indicator. J Biogeogr 2008; 35: 2258-2273.

Demissew S, Nordan I. Aloes and Lilies of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, 2010; 113-125.

Smith GF, Van Wyk BE. “Asphodelaceae” In The families and genera of vascular plants: Flowering plants, Monocotyledons: Lilianae (except Orchidaceae)’’ (Kubitzki, K. editor). Springer-Verlag, Germany, 1998; 130.

Philips M, Carillet J. Ethiopia and Eritrea,; 200. pp 183.

Useful Tropical Plants. Kniphofia foliosa Hochst., 2019 (Acessed: 18 May 2020).

Anisko T. When perennials bloom: An Almanac for planning and planting. Timber press Inc, China, 2008; 280.

Wube AA, Bucar F, Asres K, et al. Antimalarial compounds from Kniphofia foliosa roots. Phytotherapy Res 2005; 19: 472-476.

Meshesha M, Deyou T, Tedla A, Abdissa N. Chemical constituents of the roots of Kniphofia isoetifolia Hochst. and evaluation for antibacterial activity. J Pharm Pharmacog Res 2017; 5: 345-353.

Esubalew ST, Belete A, Lulekal E, et al. Review of Ethnobotanical and Ethnopharmacological Evidences of some Ethiopian Medicinal Plants traditionally used for the Treatment of Cancer. Ethiopian J Health Dev 2017; 31: 161-187.

Tesfaye S, Belete A, Engidawork E, et al. Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by traditional healers to treat cancer-like symptoms in eleven districts, Ethiopia. Evidence-Based Complement Altern Med 2020; 2020.

Berhanu E, Dagne E. Aloe emodin acetate, an anthraquinone derivative from the leaves of Kniphofia foliosa. Planta Med 1984; 50: 523-524.

Yenesew A, Dagne E, Muller M, Steglich W. An anthrone, an anthraquinone and two oxanthrones from Kniphofia foliosa. Phytochem 1994; 37: 525-528.

Wube AA, Bucar F, Asres K, et al. Knipholone, a selective inhibitor of leukotriene metabolism. Phytomed 2006; 13: 452-456.

Habtemariam S. Antioxidant activity of Knipholone anthrone. Food Chem 2007; 102: 1042-1047.

Berhanu E, Fetene M, Dagne E. Anthraquinones as taxonomic markers in Ethiopian Kniphofia species. Phytochem 1986; 25: 847-450.

Gebru M. Phytochemical and antiplasmodial investigation of Rhamnus prinoides and Kniphofia foliosa. Doctoral dissertation, University of Nairobi, 2010.

Induli M, Gebru M, Abdissa N, et al. Antiplasmodial quinones from the rhizomes of Kniphofia foliosa. Nat Prod Comm 2013; 8: 1261-1264.

Dagne E, Yenesew A. Knipholone anthrone from Kniphofia foliosa. Phytochem 1993; 34: 1440-1441.

Dagne E, Steglich W. Knipholone: a unique anthraquinone derivative from Kniphofia foliosa. Phytochem 1984; 23: 1729-1731.

Abdissa N, Induli M, Akala HM, et al. Knipholone cyclooxanthrone and an anthraquinone dimer with antiplasmodial activities from the roots of Kniphofia foliosa.Phytochem Letters 2013; 6: 241-245.

Dai Y, Harinantenaina L, Bowman JD, et al. Isolation of antiplasmodial anthraquinones from Kniphofia ensifolia, and synthesis and structure-activity relationships of related compounds. Bioorganic Medicinal Chem 2014; 22: 269-276.

Feilcke R, Arnouk G, Raphane B, et al. Biological activity and stability analyses of knipholone anthrone, a phenyl anthraquinone derivative isolated from Kniphofia foliosaHochst. J Pharm Biomed Analy 2019; 174: 277-2785.

Bringmann G, Menche D, Bezabih M, et al. Antiplasmodial activity of knipholone and related natural phenylanthraquinones. Planta Med 1999; 65: 757-758.

Habtemariam S. Knipholone anthrone from Kniphofia foliosainduces a rapid onset of necrotic cell death in cancer cells. Fitoterapia 2010; 81: 1013-1019.

Adams M, Bauer R. Inhibition of leukotriene biosynthesis by secondary plant metabolites. Curr Organic Chem 2008; 12: 602-618.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.