Crinum bulbispermum is a large bulbous plant which is easily recognised in spring and summer by the blue- to grey-green, gracefully arching tapered leaves which cascade about the plant.
The bulbs are large (8 to 10 cm wide), oval shaped and may have a neck of about 15 cm long. They are covered by many layers of papery dry bulb scales, which protect them from drying out during the dry winter months. The plants begin to bloom early in the growing season in spring, lasting for a month or more. The flowers are heavily scented, often being described as ‘sickly-sweet’ and are pollinated by insects. The flowers are followed by large, fleshy seeds contained in a covering that becomes papery as the seeds ripen. As the flower stem becomes heavier, it keels over and the seeds are released to fall onto the ground where they immediately begin to germinate.
The foliage grows to about 0.5 m with the flowering stems reaching up to a meter, with a spread of over a meter in mature plants. As autumn approaches the leaves turn from yellow to brown and papery and remain as a mulch around the bulbs to return the nutrients to the soil and to protect the bulbs during the winter months.
Crinum bulbispermum is threatened by harvesting for the medicinal plant trade which has resulted in a continuing decline of numbers in its natural environment.