Crinum asiaticum (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Crinum asiaticum L.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 1: 292 (1753).


Crinum amabile Donn. (1811), Crinum macrantherum Engl. (1886), Crinum defixum auct. non Ker Gawl., Crinum macrophyllum Hallier (1913).

Vernacular names

  • Crinum lily, poison bulb (En). Crinole asiatique (Fr)
  • Indonesia: bakung (general), kajang-kajang (Palembang), fete-fete (Ternate)
  • Malaysia: bakong, bawang hutan (general)
  • Papua New Guinea: morabau (Kabulula, Trobriand Islands), didil (Lesu, New Ireland), pokaan (Western Highlands)
  • Philippines: bakong (general), agabahan (Bisaya), biliba (Subanun)
  • Thailand: phlapphueng (central), lilua (northern)
  • Vietnam: náng hoa trắng, tỏi voi, lá náng.


From India to South-East Asia, north-western Australia and Polynesia.


In Papua New Guinea, the leaves are applied on swellings and the roots are given to ease childbirth. The hairlike threads from the stem are used to poultice cuts. In Fiji, the plant is used to treat infections of the breast and wounds. In Vietnam, a poultice of the leaves is applied to contusions, sprains and closed fractures, and a poultice of the bulb is used to relieve rheumatism. A decoction of the dried leaves is used as a wash for haemorrhoids. In Thailand, the leaves are used to treat inflammations and the bulbs as a diuretic.


A variable herb, 1-1.8 m tall, bulb about 5-15 cm in diameter, many bulblets present, false stem up to 50 cm long, clothed with old leaf sheaths; leaves 20-30, narrowly to broadly elliptical, 50-150 cm × 3.5-20 cm, lower horizontal, upper semi-erect, margins entire, smooth; umbel 10-50-flowered, scape 50-100 cm long, bracts 9-16 cm × 3-5 cm, pale; flowers fragrant at night, corolla tube straight, 8-13 cm long, 4-5 mm in diameter, lobes lanceolate, 6-12 cm × 0.5-1.2 cm, white, sometimes pink, pedicel 0.5-2.5 cm long, filaments of stamens slender, 3.5-7 cm long, anthers straight, 12-25 mm long, yellow, turning purple; capsule subglobose, 2.5 cm in diameter, beaked, pericarp fleshy, yellowish-green, 1-5-seeded; seed ovoid, often angular. C. asiaticum is extremely polymorphic, and found along sandy shores and shaded, humid localities at low altitudes. The pink-red flowered form was formerly known under the name C. amabile . C. asiaticum var. sinicum Baker, St. John’s lily, has larger flowers than the type form, and var. declinatum Baker has deflexed flower buds, and the tips of the perianth lobes are tinged red.

Selected sources

24, 74, 130,

  • Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240, Vol. 2 (I-Z) pp. 1241-2444.


  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1948-1976. The wealth of India: a dictionary of Indian raw materials & industrial products. 11 volumes. Publications and Information Directorate, New Delhi, India.263, 346, 407
  • Holdsworth, D.K., 1977. Medicinal plants of Papua New Guinea. Technical Paper No 175. South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia. 123 pp., 610, 696, 700, 739, 786, 788, 867.