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7812 Crinum macowanii (as Crinum johnstonii)

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Monocots
Ordo: Asparagales

Familia: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamilia: Amaryllidoideae
Tribus: Amaryllideae
Subtribus: Crininae
Genus: Crinum
Species: Crinum macowanii

Crinum macowanii Baker, Gard. Chron. 9: 298. 1878.

Crinum corradii Chiov. ex Chiarugi, Webbia 8: 6. 1951.
Crinum gouwsii Traub, Pl. Life 10: 40. 1954.
Crinum johnstonii Baker, Bot. Mag. 128: t. 7812. 1902.
Crinum macowanii subsp. confusum I.Verd., J. S. African Bot. 32: 67. 1966.
Crinum macowanii subsp. kalahariense L.S.Hannibal, Bull. Louisiana Soc. Hort. Res. 3(5): 256. 1972, nom. inval.
Crinum macowanii subsp. tetraploideum L.S.Hannibal, Bull. Louisiana Soc. Hort. Res. 3(5): 256. 1972, nom. inval.
Crinum pedicellatum Pax, Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 15: 142. 1892.

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Africa
Angola; Botswana; Cape Provinces; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Free State; Kenya; KwaZulu-Natal; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Northern Provinces; Seychelles; Somalia; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania; Uganda; Zambia; Zare; Zimbabwe

Continental: Africa
Regional: West-Central Tropical Africa
Regional: Northeast Tropical Africa
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan.
Regional: East Tropical Africa
Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda.
Regional: South Tropical Africa
Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Regional: Southern Africa
Botswana, Cape Provinces, Namibia, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Swaziland, Northern Provinces.
Regional: Western Indian Ocean

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition

Baker, J.G. 1878, Gard. Chron. ser. 2, 9: 298.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2018. Crinum macowanii in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2018 Jul. 27. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2018. Crinum macowanii. Published online. Accessed: Jul. 28 2018.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Crinum macowanii in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 07-Oct-06.

Crinum macowanii is a species of flowering plant in the Amaryllidaceae family.[2] It is a deciduous bulbous plant species native to Africa that has been used in traditional medicine throughout southern Africa.


The species name macowanii refers to the celebrated British botanist Peter MacOwan.

It is known by a wide variety of names among the various peoples of Africa, an indication of its popularity as a medicinal herb:

Sabbaaqqoo (in the Oromo language)
Echachumuchum (in the Turkana language)
IIjoye (in the Swazi language)
Gitoka (in Swahili)
Intelezi (in Xhosa)
Umduze (in the Zulu language)

In English, Crinum macowanii is referred to as Cape coast lily, river crinum and sabie crinum in South Africa, and as the common vlei-lily in Mozambique. In Tanzania it is known as the pyjama lily.[3]
Specimen of Crinum macowanii from the University of California Botanical Garden

Crinum macowanii is a deciduous bulbous plant with long, slender, bell-shaped, highly scented flowers which are white except for dark pink stripes.

The bulbs of this species vary greatly in size, being anywhere from 6 to 25 centimetres in diameter.
Distribution and habitat

Crinum macowanii is one of the most widely distributed of the Crinum species in Africa, being native to most of east, central, and southern Africa. The plant occurs naturally in moist grassland, vlei, deciduous woodland, in hard, dry shale, sandy flats, or brackish to reddish clay soils, as well as along rivers and on the coast from 1000 to 2600 m above sea level.[4]

Its continued existence is threatened by the unsustainable harvesting of the plant for its reputed medicinal properties.[3]
Medicinal uses
Traditional uses

Throughout much of Africa, the bulbs of Crinum macowanii are used for the treatment of a large number of conditions, with the roots and leaves having some, though far fewer, traditional uses.

Infusions of the bulb of the plant are used in Zimbabwe for the relief of back pain, as an emetic, and to increase lactation in both humans and animals.[5]

The Zulu and Xhosa people make use of the plant for the treatment of bodily swelling, disorders of the urinary tract, and itchy rashes.[6]

Various other ailments the treatment for which this plant is made use include acne, boils, diarrhea, fever, tuberculosis, and sexually transmitted infections.[3]

The plant is also used in traditional veterinary medicine in South Africa.
Scientific research

A methanolic extract of the plant from Zimbabwe was found to have antiviral properties, reducing by 100% the viral cytopathic effect in Vero cells infected with yellow fever virus, and by 70% in cells infected with Japanese encephalitis virus.[5]

Extracts of the plant were found to have weak anti-fungal properties in vitro.[7]

The alkaloids lycorine, crinine, hamayne, cherylline, and bulbispermine have been isolated from samples of Crinum macowanii.[6] The bulbs have been found to be significantly higher in alkaloid content than the roots, flowering stocks, or leaves.

Lycorine is the major alkaloid found in the roots and the only alkaloid found in trace amounts in the leaves. Other lycorine-type alkaloids found in the bulbs include hippadine and epi-lycorine, as well as 1-O-acetyllycorine, which is also found in the flowering stocks and roots.

Galanthamine a selective, reversible acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, has also been isolated from the bulbs.[3] It has been approved for the symptomatic treatment of Alzheimer's disease and has been studied for performance enhancing and nootropic activities as well as use in anesthesiology.[8]

"EOL Crinum macowanii". Retrieved 2016-11-26.
"Crinum macowanii Baker". Plants of the World Online. The Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. n.d. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
Maroyi, Alfred (2016-12-24). "A review of ethnoboatany, therapeutic value, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Crinum macowanii Baker: a highly traded bulbous plant in Southern Africa". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 194: 595–608. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2016.10.046. PMID 27773801.
Demissew, Sebsebe; Nordal, Inger. Aloes and Lilies of Ethiopia and Eritrea (PDF). p. 174.
Duri, Zvitendo J.; Scovill, John P.; Huggins, John W. (1994-03-01). "Activity of a methanolic extract of Zimbabwean Crinum macowanii against exotic RNA viruses in vitro". Phytotherapy Research. 8 (2): 121–122. doi:10.1002/ptr.2650080217. ISSN 1099-1573. S2CID 84061009.
Elgorashi, Esameldin E.; Drewes, Siegfried E.; Van Staden, Johannes (2002-10-01). "Organ-to-organ and seasonal variation in alkaloids from Crinum macowanii". Fitoterapia. 73 (6): 490–495. doi:10.1016/S0367-326X(02)00164-8. PMID 12385872.
John Refaat, Mohamed S. Kamel, Mahmoud A. Ramadan & Ahmed A. Ali (2013). "Crinum: an endless source of bioactice principles: a review. Part V. Biological profile". International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research. 4 (4): 1239–1252. doi:10.13040/IJPSR.0975-8232.4(4).1239-52.
Marco, Luis; do Carmo Carreiras, Maria (2006). "Galanthamine, a natural product for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease". Recent Patents on CNS Drug Discovery. 1 (1): 105–111. doi:10.2174/157488906775245246. PMID 18221196.

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