Pineapple lilies are in the genus Eucomis and include a wide range of tropical plants native to warm moist regions of the world. A little known fact about pineapple lilies is that they are actually related to asparagus. Both plants are in the Lily family.
Pineapple lily plants grow from bulbs. These interesting bulbs start out as a rosette and do not usually start blooming for a year. Then annually, the plants produce the pineapple shaped flowers in July to August. Some varieties carry a faint, unpleasant scent. The flower is actually comprised of many tiny little flowers clustered together in a cone shape. The colors vary but are usually white, cream or flecked with violet. The pineapple lily has pointed, spear-like leaves and a flowering stem that rises above the plant.
About the Pineapple Lilies
No fertilizer is required when caring for pineapple lily plants, but they do appreciate a mulch of manure spread around the base of the plant.
How to Grow a Pineapple Lily Flower
Most varieties are easily injured in temperatures below 68 degrees F. (20 C.), but some are hardy in temperate zones like the Pacific Northwest. The plant is hardy in USDA zones 10 and 11 but can be grown down to zone 8 if it is dug up and overwintered indoors. These plants are clumping over time and may get 2 to 3 feet (61-91 cm.) wide over time.
It might be that people don’t wake up early enough to appreciate and familiarize themselves with this fascinating annual sunflower relative. Arising from a single hairy, sticky, and resinous stalk that smells like pineapple, showy tarweed explodes into a multi-headed hydra of gloriously bright yellow flowers nearly 4 inches across that are often marked with deep magenta centers. The magnificent flowers that burst forth before sunrise, curl up from each petal tip by midday, eluding late risers.
But the bees know.
Male melissodes (long-horned bees) in particular, know tarweed flowerheads are a great place to spend the night, clustered together in nectar-soaked revere, awaiting the sunlight of dawn and the female bees that wake early to pollinate this plant.
Showy tarweed reaches heights atypical of our native wildflowers, often standing more than 5-feet high, towering above the dried-out kin of earlier seasons. This late season bloomer also has the fantastically amazing ability to set deep tap roots that allow it to prosper in the latest, hottest days of summer, even in heavy clay soils, months after the last rainfall. Occurring from southern Washington throughout California, showy tarweed wraps up its short, dazzling lifecycle with small, sunflower-like seeds that attract goldfinches and other songbirds. This is an easy to grow garden plant, and one that more people should get up early to take notice of.