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Crinum Lily
Crinum asiaticum

Poison Lily, Seashore Lily, Bakong (Malay)

whole plantThe Crinum Lily grows on sandy seashores or in the back mangrove. A very large lily, it grows from an underground bulb. The lower leaves form a stout pseudo-stem from which the leaves emerge in a rosette. The leaves can grow up to 2m long.

The flowers are delightfully scented. The fruit is a globe which turns shiny white when ripe then splits open to reveal irregularly shaped seeds. The plant is poisonous.
Mangrove and wetland wildlife at
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
Main features: Grows up to 1.5m, in freshwater or brackish swamps.

Leaves: Long (2m) strap-like, fleshy.

Flowers: Clustered; white; fragrant.

close-up of flowers
Fruits: Globose; shiny white when ripe; seeds irregularly shape.

Status in Singapore: Rare and considered threatened.

World distribution: Native to tropical Indo-Pacific.

Classification: Family Amaryllidaceae. World species, Singapore species.
Traditional medicinal uses: It is used as a poultice for aches, sores and chaps. Crushed leaves are used to treat piles, mixed with honey and applied to wounds and abscesses.

Status and threats: There are only two wild populations left in Singapore to the north and west of the main island. But it is grown as an exotic ornamental for its attractive form and flowers. It is also grown in the Botanic Gardens.

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  • Ivan Polunin, "Plants and Flowers of Singapore", Times Editions, 1987 (p. 84: description, habitat, distribution, photo).
  • Wee Yeow Chin, "A Guide to Medicinal Plants", Singapore Science Centre, 1992 (p. 49: description, chemical compounds, uses).
  • Hugh T W Tan, "A Guide to the Threatened Plants of Singapore", Singapore Science Centre, 1995 (p. 59: description, habitat, distribution, uses, conservation).
By Ria Tan, 2001