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Eucomis zambesiaca - plant of the month Sept 2015

The genus Eucomis contains a number of species of suitable hardiness and stature for both garden and container use, Eucomis zambesiaca fits both cases. Often misidentified as Eucomis autumnalis alba, the form shown is the clone of E. zambesiaca called 'White Dwarf'. The two species in question are similar in appearance but can be told apart mainly by the fact that the 'top-knot' in E. autumnalis  overhangs the flowering stem and that of E. zambesiaca holds itself mainly above and only marginally wider than the flowering stem and the flowers of E. zambesiaca are relatively wider spaced than those of E. autumnalis (commercial stocks sold in Europe are for the most part E. zambesiaca 'White Dwarf'').

 

 

Shown here is E. autumnalis (ssp amaryllidifolia)*, note the densely packed flowers, wide, overhanging 'top-knot' and very wavy, undulating leaves ( a synonym of E. autumnalis is E. undulata). This shows the typical flower colour - a white form probably exists but is not in common cultivation.

 

Bulbs should be planted with their tops level with the soil surface, in any good garden soil, preferring a sunny aspect though shade is tolerated. Propagation is either by seed, division or, perhaps surprisingly, leaf cuttings. E. zambesiaca is frost hardy to around -7C.

* now elevated to specific status by some authorities ie E. amaryllidifolia

Ray Drew
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