Species Author: Lodd.
Crinum mauritianum grows in semi-aquatic environments including swamps. All Crinum species are herbaceous and do not have an elongated stem so the leaves appear as a basal rosette. The leaves of Crinum mauritianum are long and strap shaped with parallel veins that run from the base to the tip of the leaves. In some species the leaves die back during the winter, when the swollen leaf bases form a bulb from which re-growth of old leaves and additional new leaves are produced during the spring. Crinum flowers arise on a long stalk that extends up to 0.75 m from the leaves of the plant. All the flowers radiate from a central point on the stem in an arrangement that is called umbellate (just like the spokes of an umbrella that all radiate out from a central point!) The white Crinum mauritianum flowers have six petal-like structures (tepals) that are fused at the base but that are widely spreading at the tips. The pollen producing structures are long and extend out beyond the white tepals with a purple-red stalk (filament) and the yellow anthers in which the pollen is produced. The ovary containing the ovules that will develop into the seeds is inferior, meaning it is found at the base of the flower beneath the point of attachment of the tepals. After the petal-like structures of the flower have wilted, if seeds are developing in the ovary, it increases in size, becomes fleshy and develops into a fruit usually containing 1-3 large, greenish white seeds.
Crinum mauritianum has been shown to have high levels of secondary compounds known as flavonoids, phenols, and proanthocyanidins, which are thought to reduce the incidence of diseases associated with high levels of damaging free radicals in the body. The antioxidant activity reported for Crinum mauritianum may contribute to its successful use as an extract for the treatment of inflammation.
Other Crinum species are also used extensively for a range of ailments. For example the leaves and bulbs of Crinum asiaticum are used throughout Southeast Asia and Polynesia to produce vomiting. The bulbs of the African species Crinum bulbispermum are roasted by Zulu people in Africa for the treatment of rheumatism and aching joints and a brew of the crushed leaves is considered effective for the treatment of malaria. Phytochemical research has identified 170 different compounds in this genus some of which have analgesic, antitumor, and antiviral activity.
(Fennel, C.W. and J. van Staden. 2001. Crinum species in traditional and modern medicine. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 78(1): 15-26)
(Neergheen, V. S., T. Bahorun, L. Jen, O.I. Aruoma. 2007. Bioefficacy of Mauritian endemic medicinal plants: Assessment of their phenolic contents and antioxidant potential. Pharmaceutical Biology 45(1): 9-17)
Some Crinum species are known to be toxic. For example, Crinum asiaticum is known as the Asiatic Poison Lily or Poison Bulb. Because they may contain toxins, Crinum species are not recommended for human consumption.
http://florawww.eeb.uconn.edu/acc_num/198500560.html [accessed 8 July 2007]
Many Crinum species are cultivated for their attractive flowers. The plants grow best when grown from seed rather than from vegetative offshoots and the seeds will germinate even in dry conditions as the seeds have a high water content. Many Crinum species grow well in wet conditions and some species, including the African native Crinum campanulatrum, are aquatic and will only flower when the base of the plant is under water.
The genus Crinum is a pantropical genus meaning that it is found in tropical regions of all the continents including Africa, America, Australia, and Asia. The genus contains about 65 species with a center of diversity (around 40 species) in Africa. Crinum mauritianum is known from the island of Mauritius, one of the three Mascarene Islands, where it is rare. The seeds of Crinum are adapted for water or oceanic dispersal, which is thought to have contributed to the widespread distribution of this genus. Many Crinum species are cultivated for their attractive flowers and many hybrids have been developed.
(Meerow, A.W., D.J. Lehmiller, & J.R. Clayton. 2003. Phylogeny and biogeography of Crinum L. (Amaryllidaceae) inferred from nuclear and limited plastid non-coding DNA sequences. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 141: 349-363.)
(Stevens, P. F. (2001+). Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 7, May 2007 [updated 05/28/2007]. http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/.)
The generic name Crinum comes from the Greek word krinon meaning white lily.
We currently have 3 herbarium specimens for Crinum mauritianum in our collection. Click on any specimen below to view the herbarium sheet data.
- 027952 - collected by David H. Lorence in 1996
- 087790 - collected by David H. Lorence in 2015
- 087791 - collected by David H. Lorence in 2015