Orange River Lily

Crinum bulbispermum

Hardy Swamplily, Vaal River Lily

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This is one of the easiest bulbs to grow within its genus, as this species produces an exceptionally large bulb which helps it adapt to its surrounding area as it stores precious nutrients and food during the growing period for the following season. It is also quite a unique bulb as it grows on the banks of ponds and rivers as a marginal plant, which is very unusual for bulbs. It is used as the floral emblem of the Free State province of South Africa.
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Flowering time

Spring, Summer

Fruiting time



Harvest flower stalks for flower arrangements in the autumn, soon after they have reached maximum height. Harvest seeds after seeds have reached maximum size (1-1.5 cm in diameter) and turned green in colour. Sow them as soon as possible as seeds do not keep well



Sow immediately after seeds have become large enough to sow (1-1.5 cm diameter). Remove fleshy seed coat and sow in a seed tray with sandy soil to a depth of 1-2 cm, and space 10-20cm apart.


Divide the smaller offsets from the bulb and plant after December. Only divide large clumps and remove the offsets and replant the mother, as it tends to struggle and take a long time to come back to full health.

Special features

Attracts useful insects

Attracts beneficial insects like bees and butterflies.

Attracts birds

It attracts nectar-drinking sunbirds.

Wet sites

Used as a marginal plant along rivers and ponds

Drought resistant

Plants can survive for extended periods during the growing season with little watering.

Pot plant

Attractive flowers

Special features


South Africa. This species is found in the Free State, northern Namaqualand and Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

Natural climate




Full Sun

Soil moisture


Soil type

Clay, Loam

Soil PH preference

Acid, Neutral

Frost hardiness




Used by traditional healers to treat the common cold, rheumatism, varicose veins, reduce swelling and treat septic sores.




Flower colour

Pink, White




Snails and slugs may become a problem. Remove them by hand regularly. The bulbs and adult plants may also be attacked by Amaryllis caterpillars


profile iconCrinum bulbispermum
by Andrew Hankey, Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, October 2001 (Copyright South African National Biodiversity Institute, South Africa)
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Knowledge and advice

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