Crinum minimum

Crinum minimum is one of the very few acaulescent Crinum. It is the smallest species of its genus in South Africa where it grows in the Northwest Province and must be one of the smallest worldwide. Its range also extends into Zaire, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It is closely related to Crinum acaule. Leaves 6-10 cm long and 1-2 mm wide with entire margins emerge from this petite bulb. This species has singular adaptations, entirely unique among RSA Crinum. It inhabits hot and dry places that have prolonged droughts where the only rain arrives via erratic thunderstorms which can occur from Oct to April (Northwest Province). The leaves behave in the manner of Ammocharis coranica, dying back if it is too dry but returning in the same season when more water is available. In addition this species will remain completely dormant and never grow leaves unless rainfall is sufficient, skipping consecutive years (Craib 1997) Crinum minimum does not form pseudostems and its leaves lay flat along the surface of the soil. Each bulb only produces one flower from which usually just 1 seed (rarely up to 3) can be produced. Even under ideal conditions, solely one flower can be produced per year. The flowers are extremely fragrant, especially upon opening at dusk. The flower looks its best the first night, closing the following morning and sometimes re-opens the following night with a weaker scent and shape. The fragrance can be compared to that of Brugmansia suaveolens.

Jacob Uluwehi Knecht grew this species with excellent results on O'ahu, Hawai'i, planted in deep terracotta pots in pure horticultural pumice for good drainage and gas exchange. During active growth the plants thrived with daily hand watering in arid Kaimukī (500 mm/20inches precipitation pa) and later performed just as well in humid mesic Upper Mānoa Valley with its copious rain (3550 mm/140inches precipitation pa). Strong sunlight was provided when in growth followed by an obligatory and completely dry winter rest. In habitat temperatures can fall to 0 °C on winter nights yet it bloomed for me with only occasional maximum winter lows of 13 °C (55 °F). Together Jacob Uluwehi Knecht and Nhu Nguyen grow this species in full sun, outdoors in Berkeley, California where it is given a dry winter rest and protection from temperatures below 0 °C. The photos below were taken by Jacob Uluwehi Knecht

Front view of the flower at 10pm, Jacob Uluwehi KnechtSide view of the flower at 10pm, Jacob Uluwehi KnechtBack view view of the flower at 10pm, Jacob Uluwehi KnechtShowing back of the flower, pedicel, bracts and leaf bases, Jacob Uluwehi Knecht
Front view of the flower with metric ruler (flower approx 10 cm wide), Jacob Uluwehi KnechtEntire plant with metric ruler (Flower stands at 12.5 cm above grade, leaves 22 cm , Jacob Uluwehi KnechtPlant in bud the night before opening 2009, Jacob Uluwehi KnechtDetail of 1-2 mm wide leaves, Jacob Uluwehi Knecht

The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen of the flower at the time of opening.

Crinum minimum, Nhu NguyenCrinum minimum, Nhu NguyenCrinum minimum, Nhu NguyenCrinum minimum, Nhu Nguyen

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Page last modified on March 27, 2014, at 06:27 PM