Eucomis autumnalis, the autumn pineapple flower, or autumn pineapple lily, is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae, native to South Africa. It is a summer flowering deciduous bulbous perennial. The flower stem to 40 cm (16 in) rises from a basal rosette of broad waxy leaves. The stalk (produced from mid to late summer) is tipped with a raceme of up to 125 flowers.
The bulb of Eucomis autumnalis is up to 10 cm (4 in) across. The plant (including the inflorescence) can grow up to 60 cm (24 in) tall. The single inflorescence is a cylindrical raceme atop a stout stem, carrying more than 100 flowers, greenish-white in colour. The raceme is tipped with a tuft of leaf-like bracts, looking somewhat like the leaves on a pineapple top (the reason for the common name for this genus). When the flowers have been fertilised, the flowers turn green, making the inflorescence decorative while the trilocular (three-chambered) fruit ripens to produce shiny black round seeds.
The specific epithet autumnalis refers to its flowering and fruiting time. Different botanists have given a variety of names to this species, often because a variant (subspecies) was treated as a separate species.
- Eucomis autumnalis subsp. autumnalis
- Eucomis autumnalis subsp. clavata (Baker) Reyneke
Eucomis autumnalis makes a good horticultural specimen. Plant them in groups in the herbaceous border, in large pots, or in rockeries. The flowers last well, in the garden as well as the vase, and after flowering, the ripening fruit on the inflorescence are also decorative. Easy to grow, these bulbs should be planted with their tops at ground level. They prefer a position of full sun (though they will tolerate partial shade), and prefer a rich and well composted soil. Adding well-rotted compost every spring and lots of water during the growing season will result in better flowering in the coming seasons. These plants are winter dormant, and frost hardy to Zone 9 (−7 °C / 20 °F).
Propagate Eucomis autumnalis from seed sown in spring. Seedlings should emerge within 4–6 weeks. Seedlings should be protected for the first few years and are ready to be planted in the garden in their third year. Seedlings may take up to 5 seasons to bloom. The bulb also may produce offsets, which can be removed while the plant is dormant. The bulblets can then be planted the following spring. Leaf cuttings can be taken while the plant is in active growth. If sections of 5 cm each can be planted in sterilised and well-drained soil are kept is a humid environment, tiny bulbs should form within a few months. Sterilised bulb scales, leaf bases or flower stalks can be used in tissue culture.
Notes and references
- Notten, Allice (January 2002). "Eucomis autumnalis (Mill.) Chitt". Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens: South African National Biodiversity Institute, South Africa. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
- "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families". Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2014-04-21.
- "Eucomis autumnalis (Mill.) Chitt. AGM". Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- E.g. "Eucomis Autumnalis White Dwarf". Crowders. Archived from the original on 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- "RHS Plant Finder". Royal Horticultural Society. 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- Sidwell, W.T.L. & Tamm, Ch. (1970). "The homo-isoflavones II. Isolation and structure of 4′-o-methyl-punctatin, autumnalin and 3,9-dihydro-autumnalin". Tetrahedron Letters. 11 (7): 475–478. doi:10.1016/0040-4039(70)89003-7.