The plant is native to southern Africa and can be found growing from South Africa to as far north as Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It is a tuberous perennial plant that grows in grasslands. It has straplike leaves (up to 40cm long) that are broad, stiff, arching outwards, tapering towards the ends and prominently ribbed. Leaves grow one on top of the other in three ranks, and have white hairs on their undersides.The flowers bright yellow and star-shaped, appearing with spring and summer rains, and are short-lived, closing at midday. The plant has a hard, tuberous root that is dark brown or black on the outside with a yellow/orange interior when freshly cut. Hypoxis h. is drought and frost tolerant and grows well in most soil types.
Hypoxis hemerocallidea’s tuberous roots have been highly regarded as a miracle medicine and has been traditionally used to treat a remarkably wide variety of ailments. Infusions and decoctions are used as a general strengthening tonic and during recovery periods. An isolated compound in Hypoxis is sitosterol or phytosterol, which is an immuno-enhancer. It is also used against tuberculosis, cancer, HIV, for prostate hypertrophy, urinary tract infections, testicular tumors, as a laxative, for intestinal worms, mood disorders, palpitations and rheumatoid arthritis. The raw product can be toxic and must be used with caution.