Crinum asiaticum (Grand Crinum Lily), an impressively huge plant

Crinum asiaticum (Giant/Grand Crinum Lily, Asiatic Poison Bulb/Lily, Seashore Lily)

Crinum asiaticum (Giant/Grand Crinum Lily, Poison Bulb), planted by the roadsideAn impressively huge lily with large leaves and large clusters of big blooms. Hence, not surprising that Crinum asiaticum goes by the common names, Giant Lily or Grand Lily that aptly describes its spectacular appearance.
Hmm… everything seems gigantic! Even its bulbs underground may weigh up to 20 lbs (9 kg), a fact that we just knew while researching for this post!

Crinum asiaticum (Giant/Grand Crinum Lily, Poison Bulb): buds and white flowersWe’ve observed that this dramatic plant is gaining much popularity among landscapers in recent years. It’s overtaking in numbers the Hymenocallis caribaea (Caribbean Spiderlily), plants belonging to the same Amaryllis family, that are also used to dot our local landscapes.

Elsewhere, in many warm-climate regions around the world, Crinum asiaticum is also a hot favourite landscape plant.

Plant Profile, Culture and Propagation :

  • Botanical Name: Crinum asiaticum (syn: Crinum amabile)
  • Common Name: Giant Crinum Lily, Grand Crinum Lily, Spider Lily, Asiatic Poison Bulb, Poison Bulb, Poison Lily, Seashore Lily, Bakong (in Malay)
  • Family name: Amaryllidaceae (Onion Family)
  • Etymology: The genus name Crinum originates from the Greek, Krinon, which means white lily, referring to the white or whitish flowers which most species produce
  • Origin: Indian and Western Pacific Ocean coastlines (Tropical Indo-Pacific)
  • Plant type: Ornamental flowering bulbous perennial herb
  • Features: Clump of Crinum asiaticum (Giant/Grand Crinum Lily, Poison Bulb), lining the roadsideCrinum asiaticum is one of the species of the genus, Crinum, that comprises of 60 – 100 species. In the wild, it can be found growing along coastlines or sandy seashores and in mangrove swamps.
    An evergreen herbaceous plant that is moderate to fast-growing, reaching 5 feet (1.5 m) tall and a greater spread of about 7 feet (2 m).
    Spectacular and impressive, this clump-forming perennial produces large green leaves that are up to 3 feet (1 m) long, 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) wide at its broadest and tapering gradually to a point, lanceolate, simple and have slightly undulated margins.
    Crinum asiaticum (Giant/Grand Crinum Lily, Poison Bulb) with a cluster of white flowersEmerging from huge underground bulbs that may weigh up to 20 pounds (9 kg), the smooth-textured and glossy leaves are held erect (leaves may droop backwards as they age) and spirally arranged in a rosette on a prominent and erect pseudostem made up of sheathing leaf bases. Besides the typical green foliage, the newer hybrids and varieties have leaves that are in variegated form, such as Crinum asiaticum ‘Variegatum’ with green and white stripes, or green with maroon or yellow tinge.
    Crinum asiaticum (Giant/Grand Crinum Lily, Poison Bulb) with pink/maroon flowersC. asiaticum is an enthusiastic baby-cum-flower machine, producing offsets prolifically and flowers almost non-stop throughout the year in the tropics and non-frost regions. The flowers are as eye-catching as its ornamental foliage. An erect, solid and succulent flowering scape, 1.5 – 4 feet tall will emerge from the axils of old leaves and rise above the foliage or slightly below, bearing a cluster or umbel of about 20 – 50 large blooms, showcasing a huge flower head. Closeup of Crinum asiaticum (Giant/Grand Crinum Lily, Poison Bulb) with white flowersSpiderlily-like flowers are held on greenish tube-like pedicels with a flared crown of narrowly lobed petals and very thin purplish filaments. The floral colours are varied, may be white to off-white, pink, bright maroon or red, depending on the varieties. The sweetly scented flowers are short-lived but the whole flowering process is wonderfully prolonged as the numerous buds gradually unfurl over an extended period of time.
    Flowers will eventually develop into spherical fruits or seed pods, somewhat large in size (about 5-cm diameter) and when ripe will contain viable seeds for propagation.
  • Culture (Care): Collage of Crinum asiaticum (Giant/Grand Crinum Lily, Poison Bulb) blooming forthCrinum asiaticum is an easy to grow bulbous plant that requires little care.
    Light: Grow best in full sun, but a slightly filtered sunlight spot would be fine too. It enjoys lots of light and heat, so do not site it in shade or deep shade.
    Moisture: Average water needs. Allow to dry between waterings as overwatering may cause bulbs to rot. It is moderately drought tolerant and enjoys humid conditions.
    Soil: Any kind of well-drained soil. It is salt tolerant.
    Others: Remove withered or yellow basal leaves as they age, and spent flowers too, to keep it aesthetically appealing and encourage new growth. Feed monthly with a balanced fertilizer. Repot in a large pot when necessary to provide sufficient space for the plant to grow well. No serious insect or disease problems though occasionally bothered by snails, caterpillars and leaf spot. Beware that all parts of the Giant Crinum Lily are poisonous and may cause severe discomfort if ingested, and the sap can cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.
    For subtropical and temperate regions: Hardiness: USDA Zone 8b-11. Outdoors, foliage can be damaged by frost or freezing winter temperatures, especially in Zone 8, but recovers rapidly during warm weather in spring. Best to propagate by division in winter when not actively growing. Flowers from spring to fall but all year round in greenhouse. Check out further insights from Marcelle’s Crinums site.
  • Propagation: Crinum asiaticum (Giant/Grand Crinum Lily, Poison Bulb) produces numerous offsets easilyBy separation of offsets from the parent plant and by seeds that should be sown soon after ripening, the former being preferred as seeds take about 30 days to germinate and a longer period to reach flowering size.
  • Usage: Excellent landscape plant at parks, gardens and other public places or to beautify the roadsides. In home gardens, grow C. asiaticum as single specimen for that dramatic accent or en masse in borders or use it as bedding plants or informal hedge to line the fence. Great as container plant or grown in raised planters and suitable too to be grown as aquatics or semi-aquatic plants. Ideal in greenhouse for year long blooming in temperate regions.
    C. asiaticum is known to have medicinal benefits despite it being poisonous. It is widely used in some countries as a traditional medicine – as a poultice for aches, sores and chaps, while crushed leaves are used to treat piles. Read more of its traditional uses at StuartXchange – Philippine Alternative Medicine.

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Last edit: June 7, 2016

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4 Responses to “Crinum asiaticum (Grand Crinum Lily), an impressively huge plant”

  1. Autumn Belle Says:

    Yeah, I have seen them around my neightbourhood too. The blooms are lovely.

  2. Jacqueline Says:

    They sure are, A. Belle! Thanks for dropping by.

  3. ashutosh Says:

    what a superb piece of information, about the same, i do have a same plant, recently bought, would liek to understand when the flower buds come, and the flower booms, do we need to cut the same after all flower have blossomed,
    i have planted it in a big pot..

    awaiting reply

  4. Jacqueline Says:

    Hi Ashutosh! Frankly, we’ve never grown this plant before so unable to give you hands-on answers. However, in general, the plant has to be matured enough to bear flowers and of course its flowering stalk removed when blooms are withered. Just do the needful for its growth and I’m sure your plant will reward you in due time.

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