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 pedunculatum R.Br.

Green [FOA vol.49, p.510/1994] considered C. pedunculatum to be part of the widespread C. asiaticum, following Fosberg & Sachet (1987). This view is not generally accepted in Australia. True C. asiaticum occurs on Christmas and Cocos Islands [comment in the on-line version of APNI]. I have followed the Flora of Australia here.

Very large crinum with thick, leathery leaves, to 75cm long and 20cm wide, and many stout, reddish flowering stems of up to 1m with umbels of 20-30, fragrant white flowers, with greenish-purple tubes, to 6cm long, in summer.  [RHSD, Hortus, FNSW, Baker Am.].  

Horticultural & Botanical History

First botanically described as Crinum pedunculatum by Robert Brown in 1810 [Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holland p.297/1810].

‘The present plant is a native of NSW, and has been very generally confused with C. asiaticum; the cause, most probably, of its not having found a place in the late edition of the Hortus Kewensis. But it differs from that species, by the bulb, which grows upon a large rootstock entirely above ground, is smooth and of a cylindric form, resembling very much that of the leek, except in dimension, which varies from the circumference of a man’s arm to three times that size, and even more; also by a broader flattened stem, and by a style that is shorter than the filaments. Leaves many, fasciculate, multifariously divergent, broadly lorate-lanceolate, involutely concave, smooth and entire at the edges, two or three feet long. It is generally larger than asiaticum, but not so large as amabile the finest flower we know of this natural order. A stove plant. Has been known in our collections, according to Donn's Hortus cantabrigiensis, from the year 1790; but we are not informed by whom it was introduced. Multiplied both by off-sets, and bulbiform seed; of easy cultivation, and flowers freely. The specimen from which the drawing was made was sent us from the nursery of Messrs. Colville, King's Road, Chelsea. It was small and few flowered, comparatively with many others.’  [BR f.52/1815].

The common name ‘Poison lily’ given to the Asian plants is a reference to their use as an antidote to the poison of arrows and snakes.

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues  [B.87/1843].  Macarthur and Bidwill used Crinum pedunculatum extensively in hybridisation.  


John Bidwill described six varieties of Crinum australe growing in Sydney in an undated entry in his notebook, but probably c.1840.

1. The largest is one with upright broad leaves and a column slightly coloured on one side.  The lobes of the flower are broader than in the smaller varieties.  I have seen one bulb of this nearly 18 inches diameter at the ground and almost 12 in high to the leaves which were 4 feet long.  Believed to come from Moreton Bay.

2. The common variety which grows at the Hunter River about half the size of the last with leaves more furrowed and flowers smaller – grows naturally in salt water marshes.

3. A variety about the size of the last with shorter and broader leaves irregularly spreading like a Yucca more rigid than any of the others – Lyndhurst [The Macarthur’s Sydney home].  Said to be raised from Botany Bay seed – column very short.

4. One plant in the Government garden – leaves narrower – upright as the first one – bulb not more than 4 inches high and thick – flowers earlier than the others and appears to have fewer scapes in the course of the season.  The chief difference is in the fruit which is mottled with brown and is produced in great abundance; spathe coloured reddish.

5. One patch of a very small var. in the Gov. garden, height not above 18 inches – bulb 1½ dia – flowers [entry not completed].

6. A very large variety in a garden in O’Connell Street [Sydney].  Leaves much more spreading –under ones horizontal.  Flowers through the winter.  [Bidwill p.22.]

Bidwill later extended this list in a tabular form as if preparing for publication.

Published Apr 27, 2009 - 03:43 PM | Last updated Jun 29, 2012 - 03:00 PM

Illustrated is a large crinum with a large umbel of narrow-petalled white flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.1073, 1807.

Crinum pedunculatum R.Br. | Br f.52/1815 | BHL


Family Amaryllidaceae
Region of origin

Eastern Australia and the Pacific Islands, usually along streams and in swamps

  • Crinum asiaticum L. var. pedunculatum (R.Br.) Fosberg & M.H.Sachet
  • Crinum australe Donn
  • Crinum australe var. exaltatum (Herb.) Herb.
  • Crinum australe var. pedunculatum (R.Br.) Herb.
  • Crinum australe var. rubricaule Herb.
  • Crinum brachyandrum Herb.
  • Crinum brevilimbum Herb.
  • Crinum douglasii F.M.Bailey
  • Crinum exaltatum Herb.
  • Crinum norfolkianum A.Cunn. ex Heward
  • Crinum rubricaule (Herb.) M.Roem.
  • Crinum taitense var. queenslandicum Domin


Common Name

Swamp crinum, Swamp lily

Name in the Camden Park Record

Crinum pedunculatum 


Confidence level high