Crinums are a genus of perennial plants that are part of the Amaryllidaceae family. They are common landscape plants. The genus is comprised of about 60 to 100 species. Crinums are characterized by their large size and leafless stems. The plants tend to appear alongside lakes and streams in both subtropical and tropical regions of the world, such as South Africa.
The name crinum has Greek origins. It comes from the Greek word for "white lily," which is "krinon." The majority of crinum species have either white or whitish flowers.
Crinums are herbaceous and have tunicated, large-sized bulbs. The bulbs create either a pseudostem or a neck that is comprised of the old leaves' sheathing bases. The linear leaves are shaped similarly to swords and are usually put together in a rosette, although they are occasionally situated in two different rows. The flowers either have long or short stalks and stamens that either angle downward or are curved.
Internationally, there are between 60 and 100 crinum species. Crinums appear in Africa, the Americas, Australia and southern Asia. The most crinum species are found in Africa.
All over the world, crinums have traditionally had uses to cure diseases and common ailments. According to the National Tropical Botanical Garden, they have anti-viral, anti-cholinergic, analgesic and anti-tumor properties. Crinums also can function as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, which can treat Alzheimer's disease.
Crinums are best cultivated with regular, abundant moisture and full sun. However, crinums are highly tolerant of drought. It is best to cultivate crinums from seed and to put the seeds in sandy, well-drained mediums with a slow-release fertilizer and a lot of compost.
Apart from the standard Greek name, there are several other common names for these perennial plants, including veld lilies, river lilies and umnduzes (in the Zulu language).
Some popular and well-known species of crinums include Crinum bulbispermum, Crinum macowanii, Crinum moorei, Crinum stuhlmannii, Crinum campanulatum, Crinum paludosum and Crinum graminicola.