Crinum macowanii

With a range extending from South Africa northwards to Eritrea [1], Crinum macowanii is one of the most widespread Crinum species in Africa.  The plants in my collection were bred from specimens originating in Zambia.

Crinum_macowanii3

The slightly glaucous leaves of this Zambian form have attractive undulate margins, and although the inflorescence is relatively short, it emerges from the side of the bulb and is not obscured by the foliage.  The flowers are short-lived, like those of most crinums, but powerfully fragrant.  My large bulb produces several inflorescences in succession, usually in June.

Crinum_macowanii1

I planted the bulb about eight inches deep and cover it with several inches of mulch after the foliage freezes off.  That seems to be all the winter protection it needs, even though it is planted in soil that remains quite wet in winter.  The bulb does not seem to offset, but flowers are self-fertile.  Seedlings have grown well, retaining some green leaves through much of the winter in the greenhouse.  My largest seedlings are currently about two years old, and I’d guess they’re about two more years from blooming.

In areas too cold for growing it in the ground, this is probably a reasonable candidate for cultivation in a large pot or tub.  When I purchased my first bulb, it bloomed in an 8-inch diameter pot and survived the winter completely dry, stored in the crawl space.  However,  the leaves have been much larger and inflorescences more numerous since I planted it out in a flower bed.

Crinum_macowanii2

Reference

1. Duncan, G., Jeppe, B., and Voight, L. (2016)  The Amaryllidaceae of Southern Africa, Umdaus Press, Pretoria, South Africa.

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4 thoughts on “Crinum macowanii

  1. Do crinums have those fleshy roots that do not like to be dug and transplanted? It seems weird that bulbs that have a dormant season would also be outfitted with sensitive roots. They should be tougher than that. Naked ladies transplant very easily, but even they like to keep their roots.

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    1. Yes, crinums, like many amaryllids, have thick roots that survive the dormant season and remain viable for several years. Consequently, they can take a while to recover from transplanting if the roots are damaged. In nature, a buried bulb usn’t going to be uprooted very often, so I guess there’s no selective pressure for the ability to recover rapidly from root loss.

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