Sansevieria (san-se-VEER-ee-uh) or Snake Plants are also commonly called Mother-In-Law’s Tongue or Viper’s Bowstring Hemp. The genus name is in honor of Italian Prince Raimond de Sansgrio de Sanseviero who lived in the 8th century. He was the patron of a number of important botanical expeditions.
There are more than 70 varieties of this rugged evergreen perennial succulent, all hailing from Africa, India, Madagascar and South Asia. In their native lands, they are used in many ways. For example, their tough, sword or lance shaped leaves are valuable for producing strong fibers.
Because of their carefree nature, Sansevieria of all sorts makes excellent indoor plants in almost any consistently warm, well-ventilated setting that provides a minimum of 6 hours daily of bright, indirect sunlight or fluorescent lighting.
These plants are mostly valued for their attractive foliage, but all can produce sprays of small, pretty, sometimes fragrant flowers (more on snake plant flowers) in shades of pale green, white or pale pink under ideal circumstances.
In zones 10-12, Sansevieria can be grown outdoors year round; however, be advised that in these areas they are considered to be a High Invasion Risk by the IFAS Invasive Plant Working Group. [source]
- Popular Types of Sansevieria Varieties With Brief Descriptions
- Sansevieria Trifasciata
- Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Twist’
- Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Silver Queen’
- Sansevieria Hahnii
- Sansevieria Golden Hahnii
- Sansevieria Cylindrica
- Sansevieria Black Coral
- Sansevieria Moonshine
- Sansevieria Zeylanica
- Sansevieria Bantel’s Sensation
- Sansevieria Samurai – Sansevieria Ehrenbergii
- Sansevieria Masoniana
- Sansevieria Futura Robusta
- Sansevieria Fernwood Mikado
- Sansevieria Stuckyi
- Sansevieria Boncel
- Sansevieria Pinguicula
- Sansevieria Kirkii
- Sansevieria Suffruticosa
- Sansevieria Sayuri
- Sansevieria Francisii
- Sansevieria Laurentii Superba
- Sansevieria Ballyi
- Sansevieria Bacularis
- Sansevieria Parva
- Sansevieria Jaboa
- Sansevieria Black Gold
- Sansevieria Whitney
- Sansevieria Cleopatra
- More Snake Plants to Grow and Collect
Popular Types of Sansevieria Varieties With Brief Descriptions
NOTE: In 2017, Sansevieria was reclassified as a Dracaena. All the botanical names we call Sansevieria are now Dracaena. Example: Sansevieria Trifasciata is now Dracaena Trifasciata.
Sansevieria Trifasciata is the most common and most frequently grown member of this species. The plant is deep green with pale green horizontal bands and has sharply pointed upright leaves that may grow to be about 3′ feet high.
This West African native is the one most people know as Mother-In-Law’s Tongue or Snake Plant.
Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Twist’
Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Twist’ is a slow-growing Sansevieria trifasciata cultivar that has a bit of a twist at the tip of the leaves.
This cultivar is slightly smaller than the original plant, attaining a height of only 2’ feet. In addition to the twisted variation, the plant also has a pretty yellow border along with horizontal stripes.
Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Silver Queen’
Sansevieria Silver Queen is a cultivar of Sansevieria Trifasciata. The plant has flat, fleshy, sword-shaped leaves in a very pale, nearly silver shade of greenish gray. [image]
Sansevieria Hahnii is another Sansevieria Trifasciata cultivar bearing funnel-shaped leaves that grow in a rosette pattern. The deep green leaves have bright yellow attractive markings.
Sansevieria Golden Hahnii
Sansevieria Golden Hahnii is yet another Sansevieria Trifasciata cultivar sporting golden yellow stripes. You may also hear this dwarf cultivar referred to as Golden Flame.
The pretty plant has deep green leaves with bright, creamy margins. This compact plant attains a height of only 10″ inches and grows in a dense rosette formation.
Sansevieria Cylindrica also hails from South Africa, but this variety is quite uncommon. Often compared with Lucky Bamboo plant, this unusual Sansevieria can grow to a height of 2′ feet. NOTE: Cylindrica is now known as Dracaena angolensis.
Individual leaves are quite thick and succulent. The young plants are deep green and marked with interesting horizontal bands of lighter color. As the plant matures, these colors blend to produce grayish green leaves.
Sansevieria Black Coral
Sansevieria Black Coral, an S. Trifasciata cultivar, has alternating, zigzagging stripes in a very deep shade of green, bordering on black and a pale, sage green.
Sansevieria Moonshine is an extremely attractive snake plant with pretty silver/green leaves that rise to a height of about 4′ feet. This is an undemanding plant that does well with very little care.
Sansevieria Zeylanica is also called Ceylon Bowstring Hemp. It hails from Sri Lanka where it grows in very rocky, sandy, dry areas. The plant has an upright growth habit and can attain a height of 5’ to 6’ feet tall.
The tough, leathery leaves are greenish white and marked with wavy, pale green lines in random shapes and sizes.
Sansevieria Bantel’s Sensation
Sansevieria Bantel’s Sensation presents a dramatic profile with it’s very deep green leaves bordered by pale white. This variety can grow to be nearly 3′ feet high.
Sansevieria Samurai – Sansevieria Ehrenbergii
Sansevieria Samurai is a very compact plant that only reaches a height of 6” inches with an equal spread. The V-shaped pale green leaves are reddish on the edges and on the tips. Leaves seem to grow in a spiral formation.
Samurai is also known as Sansevieria Ehrenbergii and also called Blue Sansevieria, but don’t let this fool you. This plant is actually green with a hint of copper tone. The interestingly shaped leaves grow in a stacked formation.
Sansevieria masoniana is also called:
- Mason Congo
- Whale Fin
The plant has beautiful, broad, deep green leaves marked with attractive pale green spots. It can attain a height of approximately 4’ feet.
Sansevieria Futura Robusta
Sansevieria Futura Robusta is an exceptionally tough plant that grows broad, short leaves in an attractive shade of silvery green with deep green horizontal stripes. This compact plant will never grow taller than 2’ feet.
Sansevieria Fernwood Mikado
Sansevieria Fernwood Mikado is an attractive hybrid that produces dark green, cylindrical, arching leaves that are marked with pale green stripes. The plant grows in clumps that spread to approximately 3 feet. It attains a height of around 4 feet.
Sansevieria Stuckyi is quite attractive and unusual with dark green, slightly rounded leaves. The leaves grow in a very thick mass, and the plant produces fragrant, night blooming flowers on 3’ foot high stalks.
This unusual, drought tolerant plant is a good choice for xeriscaping in a desert environment.
Sansevieria Boncel is also a rather unusual, compact cultivar of Sansevieria cylindrica that can be difficult to find.
The leaves grow in a fan -shaped formation with each individual leaf displaying a pale green base color marked by deep green concentric circles.
Sansevieria pinguicula is commonly called Walking Sansevieria because it produces pups in a manner similar to that of a spider plant. It shoots off aerial stolons that grow pups at their tips.
The pups put down roots that touch the ground and appear to walk away from the parent plant. Hence the common name.
Sansevieria Kirkii is also called Pangane or Star Sansevieria. It is a popular houseplant that can grow to be 6′ feet high. The deep green leaves may grow to be 4” inches wide and are marked with bright, fluorescent green stripes and spots.
Sansevieria Suffruticosa is another cultivar of sansevieria cylindrica which is often referred to as Skyline Spear or African Spear. This impressive plant attains a height of 3′ to 4′ feet and a spread of 2′ – 3′ feet. [image]
Sansevieria Sayuri is an unusual, hard-to-find, pricey variety that is striking because of its slim, tall pale green leaves adorned with light cream, lengthwise stripes.
Sansevieria Francisii is an unusual species that produces very succulent, stacked leaves. It resembles an aloe plant.
Sansevieria Laurentii Superba
Sansevieria Laurentii Superba, also an S. Trifasciata cultivar, may grow nearly 3’ feet high and has deep green leaves with bright yellow borders. Between the borders are zigzagging horizontal yellow stripes. [image]
Sansevieria Ballyi is a dwarf variety that only grows to be 6″ inches high. It’s leaves are deep green outlined with pale green.
Sansevieria Bacularis has deep green leaves sporting pale horizontal bands and can attain a length of 6′ feet. The tips of the leaves are soft. [image]
Sansevieria Parva or Kenya Hyacinth is native to Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda. The plant has very deep green lance shaped or linear leaves with pale green transverse bands.
Leaves grow in rosette groupings of 6 to 12. Plants reach a maximum height of 16” inches, and produce pleasantly hyacinth scented flowers.
Sansevieria Jaboa is a Trifasciata cultivar that produces many very stiff, deep green, paddle shaped leaves marked with spotty, sage green strips. This plant may vary in size from 6″ inches high to 8′ feet tall. Size is controlled by the environment. [image]
Sansevieria Black Gold
Sansevieria Black Gold is a very pretty plant sporting broad, deep green leaves with bright yellow edging. This plant does very well in a low light setting and can grow to be 3’ feet high.
Sansevieria Whitney is a small plant that reaches a height of no more than 20” inches. The sword shaped leaves are deep green with a pretty, pale green snakeskin pattern. The tips of the leaves are quite sharp and quite hard.
Sansevieria Cleopatra is a pretty hybrid plant that grows to be a little over a foot high. The light green leaves sport an interesting pattern in shades of dark green. The edges of the leaves are deep brown.
More Snake Plants to Grow and Collect
Sansevieria burmanica hails from India. This plant produces tall, slim, lance shaped leaves, 1′ to 3′ feet high, that stand in a rosette formation. The attractive leaves are bright green with pale vertical stripes. The margin of the leaf starts out green and may become pale as the leaf matures.
Sansevieria concinna hails from South Africa. The Lance shaped leaves grow in a rosette formation to a height of 6″ to 9″ inches. The leaves are medium green and are marked with light green bands.
Sansevieria hyacinthoides is also called African Bowstring Hemp, and unsurprisingly it hails from Africa. In its native setting, it grows in thick, 4′ foot high groupings under shade trees. The leaves of this plant are a medium shade of green marked with dark green horizontal bands. Leaves grow in a broad rosette formation. [image]
Sansevieria liberica hails from West Africa and the Central African Republic. This unusual plant has extremely strong, leathery leaves that grow from a single central shoot. [image]
The upright, dark green leaves may grow to be between 4′ feet and 10′ feet long. Leaves sport striking light green transverse stripes. The tips of the leaves are quite pointy and fade to a pale white as the plant matures. The leaf margins are deep reddish brown.
Sansevieria longiflora is another African variety that grows mostly in the Congo, Namibia and Angola. The plant has dark green leaves marked with light spots and irregular pale colored bands. [image]
The broad, attractive leaves may grow to be 6′ feet long. The leaf margins are hard and may be yellow or reddish brown. The leaf tips brandish a sharp, deep brown spine.
Sansevieria raffillii hails from Somalia and Kenya. The lance shaped, green leaves may grow to be nearly 6′ feet high. They are marked with greenish yellow spots and/or irregular horizontal bands. The hard leaf margins are a deep reddish brown. [image]
Sansevieria senegambica grows in western Africa. The plant grows in a rosette formation producing four upright leaves that bend back a bit at the tips. The leaves are deep green on the surface and pale green on the underside. [image]
The attractive, 1′ or 2′ foot high leaves are marked with light green transverse bands and a light green leaf margin.
Sansevieria subspicata is native to Mozambique. The plant has bent back, lance shaped, bluish green leaves that may rise to a height of approximately 5′ feet. The slim, tapering leaves have a pretty, light green margin that pales to white as the plant matures. [image]
Sansevieria ‘Desert’ is a native of Africa’s Kalahari Desert where it is referred to as Rhino Grass. This plant produces very upright, succulent leaves tipped with red. The plant may grow to be 2′ feet high.
Sansevieria gracilis is a small variety that only grows to be about 18″ inches high. The leaves are plump, long, pointy and narrow. They are marked with pale green rings.
Sansevieria fischeri is a small plant that attains a height no greater than 16″ inches. This small plant is more likely to bloom than others and bears pretty clusters of white blossoms during the summer months.
Sansevieria patens has pretty green leaves outlined in deep green that grow in a rosette pattern. This plant may grow to be 3′ feet high.
Sansevieria canaliculata is another variety that attains a height no greater than 3′ feet. This Madagascar native is best suited as a houseplant because, unlike most of its relatives, it is not drought tolerant. This plant prefers indirect sunlight and regular watering.
Sansevieria Eillensis Chahin
Sansevieria Eillensis Chahin is a small, pretty variety that grows to be only about 5” inches high. The leaves of the plant are bluish green.