Crinum were first described during the mid-18th century by Linnaeus. Crinum species are
found in Africa, the Americas, tropical Asia, the Carribean, and Australia.
In recent years, several new species of Crinum have been identified in Madagascar.
In the United States crinum have been cultivated for nearly two centuries. They are quite common in the South, California and Gulf Coast areas, but may be nearly unknown in northern states. Old cultivars have been found at cemeteries, in bar ditches, and old homesteads, testifying to the hardiness of the species.
Pictured is a crinum bulbispermum album (white) cultivar located at an abandoned home site in Texas. These old cultivars represent a unique gene pool as they may have been in place for decades, are geographically separated from other cultivars, and may have evolved characteristics not exhibited in other cultivars. Sadly, it was reported to me that the bulbs at this site are gone. This photo was taken in April 2006.
Crinum are not often found at commercial nurseries as they are slow growing and do not like to be disturbed. Too many times the assumption that crinum species are not hardy in the garden, results in the bulbs not being offered for sale.
Crinum are an extremely hardy flower. Some crinum have been reported to be hardy through Zone 5 in a garden setting and other zones with mulching, while others are tropical and must be protected. Some of the tropical varieties will survive freeze, but will not recover enough to flower. Experimentation is showing that some varieties are hardier than previously thought.
All crinum can be grown in pots if large pots are used. The bulbs are very tolerant of soil types, but prefer a slightly acid, well drained soil. They do not seem to tolerate wet, cold soil and may rot. This amaryllid is very tolerant of drought, although they may not produce flowers during extreme drought conditions.
Mature crinum bulbs range in size from one inch to ten inches, depending on the species or hybrid. Crinum multiply from basal offsets, seeds, or bulb cuttage.
Identification of Crinum varieties can be very difficult. Digital photography is assisting with identification in that pictures can be taken and compared with the actual scape, umbel, foliage, and flower of a known cultivar in real time. Even then, controversy can exist as many hybrids have not been well documented or the documentation is not available to the public. In addition, new species continue to be identified and hybrids produced. Garden names, a name used by a grower in their gardens, is some times used in commerce and further confuses identification issues.
This site is intended to show growing cultivars in a typical garden or potted setting. The same cultivar may exhibit differences due to variations in gardens, growing methods, and climatic differences.
Periodically individual growers have bulbs or seed for sale. Direct email contact with these individuals is recommended.
The links to the right show details of crinum cultivars as grown and photographed by the current grower. The photographs shown on this site are owned by the individual photographers and will not be used for any other purpose without the expressed, written consent of the photographer.