Crinum macowanii

Click on an image to enlarge it.
Botanical Name
Crinum macowanii
Amaryllidaceae - The amaryllis family.
KRYE-num ma-kow-AN-ee-eye
Common Name(s)
English: Cape Coast lily; Cape Lily; Sabie crinum; Common Vlei Crinum
Afrikaans: Boslelie; Rivierlelie
IsiXhosa: ibhucu; intelezi
IsiZulu: umNduze
Plant Group
  • Bulb / Corm / Rhizome / Tuber / Epigeal bulb Bulbs: are made up of fleshy scales as in an onion Corm: a short, swollen, underground stem that is hard and not fleshy as in a gladiolus Tuber: a solid, fleshy, underground, storage organ as in a potato Rhizome: an underground, horizontal, swollen stem at the base of the plant as in an iris Epigeal bulb: bulbs that rest above the ground with only the roots anchoring the plant to the earth as in albuca
Plant Size
  • Large
    Tree18m to 25m
    Shrub3m to 4m
    Perennial/ground cover75cm to 1m
    Bulb80cm to 1.2m
    Succulent1m to 1.5m
  • Light or Dappled Shade Found below trees with sparse, open foliage. Ideal for the protection of herbaceous plants.
  • Partial Shade The area is in shade for part of the day and in full sun for part of the day.
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Deciduous Plants which completely lose their foliage for part of the year.
  • Drought Tolerance: High The plant is well adapted to arid conditions; it can survive long periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Fragrant / Aromatic These plants posses a strong, usually pleasant odour.
  • Frost: Tender A plant that will not survive any frost or low winter temperatures.
  • Water Loving Plants need a regular supply of water and must not be allowed to dry out for any length of time.
Specific Information

Crinum macowanii​ has very long, undulating strap leaves growing from an exceptionally large bulb. It is one of the easiest crinums to propagate as it produces many seeds and under prime conditions, may flower within three years. 

The status of this bulb in the wild is listed as declining, possibly due to harvesting as it is long-lived and in the veld it takes many years to grow to a large size.

Ad Break

heavy heads of large white or pinkish trumpet-shaped blooms with rose stripes down center of the petals

  • Spring to Summer Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • white
  • pink
Growth Rate
  • Slow to Moderate Specifying growth rate can be very misleading as there is considerable variation of growth rate depending on type and species of plant, available water, supplementary feeding, mulching and general care, as well as the plants suitability and adaptability to the garden environment.
Plant Uses
  • Accent or Focal Point A plant used to attract the attention because of its colour or form.
  • Attracts bees, butterflies or other insects This plant attracts insects which can be food for birds or other creatures in your garden.
  • Attracts Birds This plant will attract birds.
  • Filler Either a fast growing tree or shrub used temporarily to fill in an area while the permanent plants grow to a desired size, or a plant used to fill gaps in borders or beds.
  • Interplanting Arranging and planting plants in the garden that have different blooming times and habits of growth, extending the amount of time in which the area is in flower.
  • Suitable for coastal gardens Plants adapted to dry, sandy soil, forceful wind, limited rainfall and intense sunlight.
  • Water Features These plants may have dramatic, lush foliage or graceful form. They do not shed excessive leaves and do not have invasive root systems.
  • Wild Garden An indigenous garden planted for the benefit of wildlife and birds. Provides food, water, a variety of mini-biomes and no poisonous chemicals are used.
Distribution and Habitat

from the Eastern Cape to KwaZulu-Natal, Free Stste, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo, continuing northwards from Zimbabwe to Eritrea, in mountain grasslands, stony slopes, hard dry shale, gravelly soil and sandy flats

Planting Suggestions

Crinum macowanii will grow well in any soil to which plenty of compost has been added. Plants grow best in full sun but will tolerate light shade. Although drought tolerant, these lilies can not be expected to thrive without plentiful water, especially during the summer months. Crinum Macowanii is a heavy feeder - use 3:1:5 or and organic fertiliser. Spectacular results can then be expected. On the other hand, I have never fed mine and they seldom get water, but have flowered faithfully, although less so during the drought. I also have a couple that grow in the veld with no aid at all, and they too flower annually. Grow in a permanent position as these bulbs resent being disturbed and will take a season or two before they flower.

The amaryllis caterpillar is very fond of crinums and a sharp lookout must be kept for these pests as they may even bore right down into the bulb and cause long term damage or even the death of the plant. Unfortunately this caterpillar is poisonous and not eaten by birds, so if you want to avoid the used of pesticides, it will be necessary to physically remove them daily until the season is over. Even if you do use poisons, remember that the young caterpillars will survive your efforts, as the eggs are laid inside the leaf where they are protected. 

Medicinal Uses

Crinum species have been used traditionally to cure ailments and diseases. Fibres of the bulb have been used as a dressing on inflamed sores. Crinum species contain highly toxic alkaloids and are not recommended for use by the uninitiated, as a large dose could easily be fatal.

Ad Break


I was given some Crinums , they look very tattered and are not in flower, so it is difficult to see which it is, macowanii or moorei. Do you have any suggestions identifying them from quite tattered leaves and the bulbs?

Hi Yvette

The bulbs themselves are so similar that I can only tell them apart by the manner in which the leaves emerge from the bulb. The leaves of Crinum macowanii emerge directly from the top of the bulb and level with the ground. The leaves of Crinum moorei emerge from a pseudostem of concentric rolled leaf blades that surround the growing point. This pseudostem remains when the leaves die off and becomes thicker and sturdier each year.

I have included a couple of pictures to give you an idea of what to look for. On the left is Crinum macowanii and on the right is Crinum moorei.

I hope this helps. If not, send a picture.

Kind regards

thank you Lorraine, this is indeed a great help!

Discuss this plant

Share knowledge, ask a question or give an experience.

Bottom Border