Due to its characteristic inflorescence almost everone knows Eucomis bicolor. The green-purple, star-shaped flowers are born in a dense raceme, with on top of it some small 'leaves'. Because of this inflorescence the plant has got the name of 'pineapple plant'. The genus Eucomis contains besides E. bicolor other interesting species.
The genus Eucomis (Hyacinthaceae) contains about 15 species which are native to tropical and southern Africa, especially to South Africa. The species are summer-growers, except for Eucomis regia, which is a winter-grower from the Cape region. The bulb produces a basal rosette of three to six leaves. The inflorescence is first produced after the leaves have grown out. The star-shaped flowers are born in a raceme. The colour of the flowers varies from white (Eucomis zambesiaca), green-purple (E. bicolor) to dark-purple (E. vandermerwei).
Eucomis autumnalis contains three subspecies of which ssp. clavata is the best known and is grown in cultivation. The flowers of this species are green-white to white. In comparison to E. bicolor the flowers are born in a less dense raceme. The flowers of Eucomis autumnalis ssp. autumnalis are white coloured with a green base.
Two Eucomis species differ from the other species. The first one is E. vandermerwei: a 'dwarf plant' with leaves which are up to 20 cm long and are covered with dark-purple spots. The flower-stem and the flowers are also dark-purple coloured. This species is not widely spread in cultivation.
The other Eucomis species which differs from the other ones is E. regia; the winter-grower. A couple of years ago I bought seeds from this species in South Africa. Soon after sowing almost all seeds germinated, but only a few plants survived the first year. Nowadays two plants have survived. In the past years I have learned that Eucomis regia is sensitive to (too much) water. Therefore the soil excists of mainly sand. This type of soil holds little water, which reduces the chance on rot. Furthermore I water plant first when the soil is almost dry. My aim is to grow one or more flowering plants. I am very curious about how the infloresence looks like. Nor in various books nor on the world wide web I could find a picture of a flowering plant of Eucomis regia.