Crinum macowanii

Crinum macowanii photo © by Michael Plagens

Observed along the road to Insinya, Kajiado, Kenya. Dec. 2015.

It is fascinating to look at this beautiful flowering plant and notice how it deals with grazing animals that inhabit the seasonally wet grasslands where it grows. First, the leaves are tough and rubbery - the tips get chewed off, but the strong attachment holds and the leaves can continue elongating from their bases. Next the inflorescence shoot arises from a lateral bud below the leaves, lower than most grazers can reach. The large white flowers are night-pollinated and are closed up from mid morning till dusk. The open flowers are held high up so as to make visitation by night-flying moths more likely. Soon after the flowers are pollinated the whole peduncle (stem) rotates back down to soil level to keep the developing fruits below the animals' grazing level.

Crinum macowanii photo © by Michael Plagens

Amarillidaceae -- Amarillis Lily Family

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 9 July 2015