3 Subgenus Crinum, Ex. Subgenus Playtaster

III. Subgenus Crinum, (ex S. g. Platyaster) with lorate tepals and sessile or subsessile blossoms. Note: Crinum americanum represents Linnaeus' original representative form for genus Crinum. Thus by Botanical code this species classification was changed from Platyaster to subgenus Crinum L.

Figure 19 Fig. 19: Crinum americanum. Linnaeus based the genus name 'Crinum' on C. americanum. 'Crinum' comes from the Greek 'Crinos' meaning a comet, or hanging hair, an obvious feature evident on seeing a mature C. americanum blossom with its trailing tepals. His Latin descriptive-phrase in Species plantarum I and II has long been a botanical enigma, but refers to the inturned hanging tepals with their small claws (actually drip-tips) on the tepal apices. A condition which develops during humid weather. Few early day botanists had the opportunity to see a specimen in flower, so the reference to the drip-tips remained completely misunderstood. In all likelihood Linnaeus probably has had many chuckles over his contemporaries' lack of observation, or inability to note such an obvious detail. But at the right period, the claws are quite evident, and are even preserved on the Clifford specimen H. S. C. 127.1. or present on Linnaeus' form 'beta' illustration in Commelin's rariorum 15, t.15, reference.

Figure 19 is that of a Mississippi River form of C. americanum and is near typical of the H. S. C. 127.1 herbarium specimen in Kew. Some 40 so-called American species are recorded, but basically all but one or two are no more than mere geographical variants. The tepals are usually shorter where tropical nectar moths with long tongues are present. They spread the pollen at night.

Figure 20 Fig. 20: C. americanum A variant with less pendent tepals.
Figure 21 Fig. 21: C. americanum var robustum was first described in L. H. Bailey's 1912 Cyclopedia of Horticulture. The plant is fairly cold hardy and the tepals broader than the type form. It flowers and sets seed freely. It also sends out six foot underground runners in a moist lawn.
Figure 22 Fig. 22 Crinum americanum cv. von egger. This multiflowered form is found on several outer Caribbean islands, including the Virgin. The Waimea Botanical Gardens, Hawaii, had an excellent stand, but the heavy storms of 1996 damaged much of the planting.
Figure 23 Fig. 23: The Gatun Lake, Panama, C. americanum giga variant, often identified as a C. erubescens major. It has a bulbous trunk some 50 cm. long by 10-15 cm. diameter, with numerous rhizomes several centimeters in diameter and up to two meters in length. The plant is strictly tropical, lacks an enlarged bulb, and is not adaptable to gardens outside of the tropics.
Figure 24 Fig. 24: Crinum x submersum Herbert is a natural hybrid found in Brazil. It is an obvious cross of C. scarbrum and C. americium, and is quite sterile. Numerous duplicate crosses, man-made or hummingbird pollinated, have appeared since Herbert's time. The variants amongst both C. americanum and C. scabrum result in significant diversity as shown in Figures 25 and 26 below. Usually the petals are intermediate in form, indicating some intermixing of genes.
Figure 25 Fig. 25: Another C. x submersum form. It is an easy cross to effect and seems quite hardy. Some pollens may backcross onto parental stock.
Figure 26 Fig. 26: Another apparent C. x submersum form. The C. scabrum parentage is obvious in the wide petals.
Figure 27 Fig. 27: A Crinum x submersum, often identified as a C. erubescens type.
Figure 28 Fig. 28: Crinum amoenum Roxby. Common to Nepal, Sikkim, and Ceylon. There are a number of variants and those from Sikkim are quite cold tolerant. At one time the USDA imported quite a quantity for their cancer research program. Note that the petal arrangement is quite similar to C. americanum.
Figure 29 Fig. 29: C. amoenum is best pot grown in case of hard winter frosts.
Figure 30 Fig. 30: Crinum gracile Meyer, (Syn. C. cumingii Baker ). The spreading foliage and short scape may be due to Pasadena culture. The bulb was collected on Polillo Island, Philippines by R. K. Bennet, and desires considerable humidity. We suspect some remote relationship to C. amoenum.