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Eucomis vandermerwei - plant of the month August 2010


Eucomis vandermerwei is a relative newcomer to cultivation, the species was first described by Inez Verdoorn in 1944. A native of the high rainfall area of Steenkampsberg, a South African mountain plateau in Mpumalanga (formaly Eastern Transvaal),consisting largely of high-altitude grassland, ranging between 1700 and 2274 metres, broken by rocky outcrops. The area is no stranger to frost and as such this species is tolerant of low temperatures.

Eucomis is a genus of African bulbs in the hyacinth family Hyacinthaceae. Most species of this genus are commonly referred to as pineapple flowers or pineapple lilies. The name "Eucomis" is of Greek origin, "eu-" meaning "pleasing" and "kome" "hair of the head", thus referring to the tuft of leaf-like bracts that crown the inflorescence of the species in this genus.

Eucomis vandermerwei  is adapted to high rainfall during the growing season but needs good drainage; an 'open' compost is a must. It needs to be kept fairly dry in winter but not dessicated as the bulbs shrivel quickly under these conditions. It may be propagated from seed or leaf cuttings, by division of the large tunicated bulb or from offsets.

Ray Drew