Eucomis, pronounced “YOO-com-iss,” is commonly known as pineapple lily because its flower spikes are topped with a cluster of leaves that resembles a pineapple. The small individual florets that compose the flower spikes are six petaled and star shaped. This bulbous herb’s long, lanceolate, wavy-edged leaves are spotted with purple beneath.
Eucomis derives its name from the Greek eu for “good” and kome for “hair,” implying a beautiful head, from the tufted leaves crowning the flower spike.
Horticulturists and florists are becoming more aware of this eye-catching flower, which is native to South Africa and has been cultivated in England for more than 200 years. As a result, many new varieties and selections are being produced in the United Kingdom, Germany, Holland, Australia and New Zealand. Eucomis is available in the United States from California growers from May through August.
Most Eucomis flowers are greenish white, sometimes spotted with purple. New varieties include red, burgundy and violet.
Eucomis bulbs are toxic and can be harmful if ingested in large quantities, but some species are used for medicinal purposes. The Xhosa people of South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province boiled the bulbs into a poultice and used it as a cure for rheumatism. Eucomis have an unpleasant odor, and they attract flies, bees and other insects.
The Pineapple Lily will last for up to 14 days in arrangements if they are kept in cool conditions away from heat sources. Florets can be removed when they fade to maintain a fresh appearance. Eucomis’ bold architectural lines warrant a prominent spot in arrangements that have an unusual flair.