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Crinum L.. 1753 x, probably C. x ‘ Vera Cruz’
pronounced: KRY-num hybrid
(Amaryllidaceae – the amaryllis family)
common name: Crinum hybrid
Crinum is from the Greek κρινον (krinon), a lily. This is a large genus of bulbous perennial plants that have large showy 6-lobed flowers, sometimes scented, on leafless stems. The leaves are basal, typically long and strap-shaped, light green to dark green in colour. They are found naturally in coastal areas, or along the sides of streams and lakes in tropical and sub-tropical areas worldwide.
All parts of the plants are poisonous, but extracts of the bulbs have been used medicinally, mainly in poultices for wounds. Crinum species and cultivars prefer a warm climate, and few will tolerate even the lightest of frosts. They prefer a sunny or semi-shaded position in moist well-drained soil. They dislike being transplanted, and take time to establish. They may be propagated from seeds or from offsets; but plants grown from seed will usually take 3 years to produce flowers.
‘Vera Cruz’ is a Crinum x baconi (C. americanum x C. zeylanicum) hybrid, which is likely to be a backcross because it is fertile, readily forming seed. It was found growing wild near Vera Cruz in Mexico. Its rose-coloured stripes are darkest on the back of the tepals with a faded appearance on the inside.
Crinum americanum, the string lily, is native to south-eastern USA, that rises from a 4.5 – 11 cm thick fleshy bulb. The linear, leathery leaves are bright green and reach a length of 30 – 120 cm. White or pink-striped flowers are produced on a succulent, cylindrical stem 30 – 90 cm tall. A 15 cm floral tube bears 6 petals and sepals, and rosy stamens emerge from the throat of the tube. The fruits are lobed seed capsules about 4 cm thick.
Crinum zeylanicum is native to western India and Sri Lanka. It has very showy red and white striped flowers, and a prominent whitish rib on the underside of the leaf, which is prominent on several of its hybrids as well. The scapes, peduncles, seed pods and buds are burgundy in colour, and the scape also has a glaucous coating, giving it a distinctive purplish appearance. The tip of each tepal is attenuated. In India, this is much used as a herbal plant, the bulbs being first roasted and then used to treat rheumatism.
Information about medicinal qualities of plants, or about their use as medicines, is for interest only, and is not intended to be used as a guide for the treatment of medical conditions.
More information about Crinum fruits may be found under Crinum pedunculatum.
Photographs taken in Picnic Bay, 2008, 2014
Page last updated 22nd December 2017