Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Crinum jagus (J.Thomps.) Dandy

Bulbous perennial with bulbs to 15cm across, strap-shaped leaves, to 90cm long and 10cm across, and umbels of up to 6 bell-shaped, vanilla-scented, white flowers, up to 25cm long, in summer.  To 90cm.  [RHSD, Hortus].  

Horticultural & Botanical History

The first known description is by John Thompson as Amaryllis jagus [Botany Displayed t.6/1798]. Classified as a Crinum by Andrews in 1801 as Crinum giganteum [ABR t.169/1801]. Correctly named Crinum jagus by Dandy in 1939 [ J. Bot. vol.77, p.64/1939].

Figured by Ker Gawler in the Botanical Magazine as Amaryllis ornata var. beta, the White Cape-coast lily [BM t.923/1806].  His naming of this plant was based on a misunderstanding that it was a white-flowered form of the true Cape-coast lily.

‘This fine plant has been long known in England, but much misunderstood; and no figure (though there are not a few) has yet done justice to the large and delicate texture of the flowers; among the worst of the figures is that given by Mr. Gawler, in this work, under the name of Amaryllis ornata β.  It is a native of Sierra Leone, and no doubt other parts of the coast of tropical Western Africa.  Bulbs were sent to us recently by Capt. Babington, from Sierra Leone.  The late Mr. Herbert can hardly have seen a fair or well-cultivated specimen or he would not have cavilled at the original name and changed it to C. petiolatum.’  [BM t.5205/1860].

‘The coast of Africa bordering on our settlement of Sierra Leone, has furnished us with a number of beautiful plants; but none more so, than those of the natural order of Lily; witness our present figure, which was taken from a plant in the Hammersmith collection, in the month of August 1800. The bulbs of this grand species of Crinum, were received by her ladyship, the Right Honourable the Marchioness of Rockingham, about the year 1792, from Sierra Leone; they may be considered as hardy hothouse plants, and may be kept in any part of it.’ [ABR t.169/1801]. Introduced to Britain in 1792 [JD].

History at Camden Park

It was certainly grown at Camden by 1854 as it was included in a hand-written list of plants in an 1850 catalogue now in the Mitchell Library and signed on the front ‘Wm. Macarthur, 23rd Dec. 1854’.  [ML 635.9m].  Verdoorn considers Crinum giganteum Andr. to be closely related to Crinum moorei Hook.f., forms of which grow in large numbers at Camden Park today.  We cannot rule out that these plants are descendants of Crinum petiolatum although this seems unlikely.


Published Apr 27, 2009 - 05:00 PM | Last updated Jun 29, 2012 - 02:38 PM

Shown are leaves and large, white cup-shaped flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.5205, 1860.

Crinum jagus (J.Thomps.) Dandy | BM t.5205/1860 | BHL


Family Amaryllidaceae
Region of origin

Tropical west Africa

  • Crinum bequaerti De Wild.
  • Crinum congolense De Wild.
  • Crinum giganteum Andr.
  • Crinum laurentii T.Durand & De Wild.
  • Crinum ornata Ker-Gawl.
  • Crinum petiolatum Herb.
  • Crinum podophyllum Baker
  • Crinum spectabile Herb. ex Steud.
  • Crinum suaveolens A.Chev.
  • Crinum vanillodorum Welw. ex Baker
  • Amaryllis ornata var. beta Ker Gawl.
  • Amaryllis jagus J.Thomps.
  • Amaryllis gigantea W.T.Aiton
  • Amaryllis latifolia Lam.


Common Name

Cape Coast Lily

Name in the Camden Park Record

Crinum petiolatum 


Confidence level high