African Spear (Sansevieria Cylindrica)
African Spear (Sansevieria Cylindrica)
African Spear (Sansevieria Cylindrica)
African Spear (Sansevieria Cylindrica)
African Spear (Sansevieria Cylindrica)
African Spear (Sansevieria Cylindrica)
African Spear (Sansevieria Cylindrica)

African Spear (Sansevieria Cylindrica)


African Spear Plant (Dracaena Angolensis/Sansevieria Cylindrica)

 When you hear of a beloved tropical plant whose common names include African Spear, Elephant’s Toothpick, and Saint Bárbara Sword, you don’t exactly expect that plant to look like a daisy. However, even those names can’t prepare you for your first glimpse of Dracaena Angolensis—also known as Sansevieria Cylindrica, the Cylindrical Snake Plant. We can't say whether “spear”, “toothpick”, or “sword” is most accurate (in fact, we prefer “unicorn horn”) but we can tell you this amazing plant is one of a kind—plus, it’s as easy to care for as it is unique. 

Our Favorite Place to BUY African Spear Plants

 Native to the country of Angola, African Spear Plant has leaves that immediately set it apart. They’re deep green banded with thin mottled stripes of darker green. They’re only an inch across, but can stretch up to 4’-7’ in length. Plus, oh yeah—they’re also cylindrical instead of flat, almost like living spikes. They even have pointy little tips (which are actually quite sharp, so watch out for those).

 True, leaves this long can admittedly get a little wild and unruly. But no worries: African Spear Plant’s leaves can also be trained to grow into a tidy braid instead. This gives the plant an entirely different, yet still fantastic look. 

 At this point, we almost don’t even feel the need to mention that this is one of the sansevierias most likely to bloom, sending up a three-foot flower stalk with dozens of nondescript, but heavenly-smelling little cream-white flowers. But it is.

 Before you start to think about how difficult this rare, exotic beast must be to keep healthy, let us remind you this is a sansevieria—which means that it looks fancy, but it’s virtually indestructible.

 Take light, for example. African Spear Plant loves full sun in the morning and part sun in the afternoon, but anything other than full sun in the desert is probably fine with African Spear Plant. Bright indirect, medium, low … whatever. It’ll make it work.

 Its other needs are just as undemanding. Water? A decent drink once or twice a month is all it needs. Fertilizer? It doesn’t mind a half-strength dose once a month in spring and summer, but nothing more. Other than that, just keep it above 55°F and it’ll be happy as can be.

 Unusual? You bet. Crazy-cool, captivating, and surprisingly unkillable? Yep, all that too. African Spear Sansevieria is an ideal specimen or accent plant for horticulture lovers of every skill level.

 Characteristics and traits of an African Spear Sansevieria (Dracaena Angolensis)

  • Scientific Name: Dracaena Angolensis (syn: Sansevieria Cylindrica, Sansevieria Angolensis)
  • Genus: Dracaena
  • Family: Dracaenaceae (formerly Asparagaceae)
  • Common Name: African Spear Plant, African Spear Sansevieria, Spear Sansevieria, Cylindrical Snake Plant, Elephant’s Toothpick, Skyline Spear Sansevieria, Saint Bárbara Sword,
  • Indoor: All year in temperatures above 55°F
  • Outdoor Zones: 10-11
  • Type: Perennial evergreen succulent; Propagated via division or leaf cuttings
  • Mature Height: 2’-7’ (smaller in pots, larger outdoors)
  • Mature Width: 1’-2’
  • Plant Height when Shipped: XXXXXX
  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • Flower: Yes - central stalk up to 3’ tall draped in small, white flowers that are visually unremarkable but smell nice.
  • Foliage: Unique cylindrical leaves up to several feet in length but only an inch wide, bright green striped with irregular silver-green bands.

Plant Care and Advice for African Spear Sansevieria (Dracaena Angolensis)

  • Grown In: Inside: all zones year round, Outside: zones 10-11
  • Light Requirements: Bright to low. Best with full sun in morning, part sun in afternoon.
  • Water Requirements: In spring and summer, give a deep drink when the soil is dry 2” down. In fall and winter, just moisten the soil once a month.
  • Drought Tolerance: Great
  • Temperature: Likes indoor room temp. 65°F-85°F. Bring inside when outdoor temps fall below 50°F.  
  • Air Purification: Excellent - removes airborne pollutants including benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene.
  • Toxicity: Mildly toxic. When ingested, can cause symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Fertilizer: Succulent food given at half strength once per month during spring and summer.
  • Container Friendly: Yes - with proper drainage

 Our Favorite Place to BUY African Spear Plants


  • Planting:

 African Spear Sansevierias grow slowly, especially in lower-light situations, and don’t mind being pot-bound, so they rarely need repotting. But, if your plant is tipping over (they do get top-heavy), sending roots out the drainage holes, or clearly overgrowing its pot, the time has probably come.

 If possible, repot in spring, right at the start of the growing season. Choose a heavy pot that is 1”-2” wider in diameter than the previous container, and make sure it has ample holes for drainage. 

 African Spear Sansevierias are succulents, so the best soil choice will contain a small amount of peat for nutrients and a lot of sand, pebbles, or perlite to promote drainage. Pre-mixed succulent or cactus soils are ideal.

 Repot the plant as normal, but withhold water for 2-4 weeks so the plant can settle into its new digs.

 Note: Repotting is also the ideal time to propagate this plant via division (see Expert Advice section).


  • Plant Care:

 African Spear Sansevierias are very unfussy about light. Their absolute favorite is direct sunlight in the morning and filtered sun/part shade in the afternoon. But their second favorite is pretty much “anything else”. They dig bright indirect light, medium light, even low light (though they’ll grow more slowly and their leaves will be less upright and more fanned-out). In many locations they can also handle full sun, especially if acclimated gradually over the course of a couple weeks. Just watch for yellowed leaf edges or faded gray, white or tan patches—those indicate sunburn. 

 As succulents, African Spear Sansevierias are quite water wise. During the spring and summer, give them a deep drink, then let it drain completely and allow the soil to dry to a depth of 2” before watering again (probably every 10-14 days). In winter, cut water back to once per month and give just enough to moisten the soil. Make an effort to water the soil, not the leaves, as water left standing on the leaves, especially in the central “rosette”, can invite fungal infections. 

 Normal household humidity is great for African Spear Sansevierias, so they rarely require misting or pebble trays. Indoor temperatures anywhere between 60°F-85°F are ideal. However, the plant will begin to suffer tissue damage once temps drop down to the 55°F-50°F range, so those are best avoided. Also, take care to avoid placing your plant in the path of cold drafts and A/C vents.

 Perhaps unsurprisingly given their uncomplicated taste, African Spear Sansevierias need minimal fertilizer. A half-strength dose of succulent food once a month from April to August (and none from Sept-March) is plenty.  

  • Expert Advice:

 Dracaena Angolensis (Sansevieria Cylindrica) is impervious to most forms of harm, but has one major weakness: overwatering. As long as you don’t let the plant sit in waterlogged soil, it’s almost guaranteed to thrive. If it’s not thriving, here are a few hints to help you diagnose the situation.

 If the plant’s leaves turn mushy and yellow or brown, especially at the base of the plant, it’s most likely been overwatered. Depending upon how wet the soil is, you may need to repot into dry soil ASAP to save the plant. 

 Yellow leaves that are clearly not the result of too much water could be a matter of too much cold air, or possibly a fertilizer overdose.

 Speaking of which, if the leaves of your Dracaena Angolensis begin to curl, revisit your fertilizer regimen. Is it possible you’re offering more than the plant needs? If not, this could be a case of underwatering. It’s rare, but possible, especially during the warmer months. Give water a bit more frequently and see if it helps. 

 Although few pests or diseases (other than root rot) are drawn to Dracaena Angolensis, it does occasionally contract vine weevils. These are easily controlled with neem oil, though it’s possible to overlook them until the damage is too much.

 There are two primary ways to propagate Dracaena Angolensis (Sansevieria Cylindrica). The easiest and most reliable is by division. Simply wait for the plant to send out its rhizomes (underground stems) and sprout baby “plantlets”. Once the babies reach about 6” in height, detach them from the parent plant (roots and all—this is best done when repotting), give them a day or two to seal their wounds, then transplant them into their own containers. 

 If you’d prefer a more hands-on method, leaf cuttings are also an option. Cut a leaf into 3” sections, making note of which end was “up”, and give the cuttings 24 hours for their wounds to seal. Once that’s done, insert them ½” into moist soil, give them a brightly lit spot, and keep the soil damp, but never soggy. It will take months, but you should see first roots and then plantlets. Note, however, that these plantlets may not be identical to the parent plant the way plantlets produced naturally by rhizomes are.