Although I have known of their existence and have grown them at the Benton House (1873) Historic Garden in the past, I recently re-ordered six bulbs of Pineapple Lily (Eucomis bicolor) for planting in that garden this spring.
Eucomis is an amazing, semi-tropical bulb which produces magnificent, late summer inflorescences of long-lasting pale green, purple margined, flowers on 12-24 inch stems which, if you didn’t know the difference, appear as alien-like creatures about to invade.
Upon blooming, each flowering stem is highlighted by a number of leafy green bract at the top of the stem. The flower’s stem emerges from a basal rosette of strap-shaped, wavy 12-20 inch long leaves which are sometimes mottled purple on the undersides.
Eucomis is native to South Africa where they grow in the grasslands, forests, swamps and on river banks but are absent in dry locations.
Cited by English botanist, John Gilbert Baker, in 1878, at close quarters their flowers have an unpleasant smell.
Ed Myers, an Advanced Master Gardener, is a past President of the Irvington Garden Club and the Garfield Park Master Gardener Association. He is also the Steward of both the Benton House and Kile Oak Habitat Gardens. He may be reached by email at EMyers3670@aol.com.