The Natal lily, Crinum moorei, with its large, white to pinkish red, open tubular flowers, literally glows in the dappled shade of the century-old plane tree avenue in the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Gardens in Pietermaritzburg during midsummer (October to January).
It is one of the larger members of the world-wide tropical to temperate ornamental lily family, Amaryllidaceae. The family includes the European narcissi and daffodils but also gardeners' favourites from southern Africa such as Amaryllis, Haemanthus, Scadoxus, Clivia, Brunsvigia, Boophone and Cyrtanthus (see the plant index or search for pages about these plants).
The large bulb (up to 200 mm in diameter) of Crinum moorei rests just under the surface of the soil but has a an elongate neck which protrudes a further 200-300 mm above ground. The long, flat, dark green leaves (up to 1 m long and about 200 mm wide), emerge in a rosette from the neck which also produces a long flowering stalk in summer of 1.2 m or more, topped by 5-10 large, open, white to pale pink flowers.
Geoff Nichols (2002) has identified three flowering forms based on his personal experience in the field:
– Port St Johns (Eastern Cape) form: pink flowers produced in September to October.
– Oribi Gorge/Krantzkloof (KwaZulu-Natal south coast) form: white suffused with pink flowers in late December.
– Mtunzini/Ngoye/Ngome (KwaZulu-Natal north coast, Zululand) form: white flowers produced in November.
Inez Verdoorn (1961) said that in both Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal the bulbs vary considerably in size and also in the colouring of the flowers, which range from white to white suffused with pink. The light pink flowers illustrating her account in The Flowering Plants of Africa came from Port St Johns.
Crinum moorei was described by 19th century botanist, Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, while he was director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew in London. According to Verdoorn (1961) his description was based on plants grown by Dr D. Moore, after whom he named it. Dr Moore, director of the Glasnevin Botanical Gardens in Dublin, received the seed from a British soldier named Webb who collected it in KwaZulu-Natal during the 1860s. The genus name Crinumis derived from the Greek krinon, meaning 'lily'.
Geoff Nichols (2002) warns that these are forest lilies and must be grown in dappled shade as full sun will burn the leaves yellow. The plants should be in light broken shade when leaf production starts at the end of winter.
At the Botanical Gardens in Pietermaritzburg we have found that full sun not only damages the leaves but also burns the flowers. We grow them successfully in semi-shade in areas such as on the sides of our century-old plane tree avenue where they grow happily with Plectranthus shrubs and the lower-growing hens-and-chickens, Chlorophytum comosum.
Our plants are grown both from bulbs and from the peanut-sized seed. Seed should be sown fresh either where they are to grow or in trays immediately after harvesting, as the seed does not keep well. Bulbs sown from seed will take three to four growing seasons before flowering. Older bulbs being planted out should be well spaced to prevent overcrowding, as they continue to produce new bulbs. The bulbs are dormant in winter, the leaves dying off after flowering.
The bulb needs good natural compost or fertilizer, and it needs to be well watered in spring and summer.
In the coastal KwaZulu-Natal garden the plants, particularly the leaves, are susceptible to damage by the introduced Amaryllis moth caterpillar (Brithys crini). Regular spraying with a pyrethrum-based insecticide controls this problem. The herbivorous mole rat also damages the bulbs.
- Nichols, G. 2002. Crinum moorei. Farmer's Weekly, September 2002: 9.
- Pooley, E. 1998. A field guide to wild flowers: KwaZulu-Natal and the eastern region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.
- Verdoorn, I.C. 1961. Crinum moorei. The Flowering Plants of Africa 34: t. 1351.
KwaZulu-Natal National Botanic Garden
Conservation information updated October 2016
And you have to find perfect hooks for an essay even when you don’t know what to write about.
When you are asked to write an essay, it doesn’t mean that you don’t get to express your own thoughts and creativity. An essay shouldn’t be boring or too formal. As a writer, your first priority is to make sure that you are keeping your audience in mind and writing for them and to them. That means grabbing and keeping their attention so that they want to read every word.
This is exactly why the essay hook exists and is such an important tool.
The use of hooks in writing goes far beyond just essays and college papers. Every writer, copywriter, screenwriter, and storyteller uses this device to draw in readers and keep them hooked. For example, world-famous ad executive, David Ogilvy, relied on a list of 29 “magic words” that he used in titles in order to hook a client’s attention.
College essay hooks can be difficult to generate, especially when you are still working on clarifying what your essay is going to say. So, the very first step in writing a strong essay hook is to do some planning.
This type of hook is appropriate when you are writing about a particular author, story, literary phenomenon, book, etc. Using a quote will make your essay sound fresh and establish your authority as an author.
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” These words of Nick Carraway perfectly describe…”
“Not all those who wander are lost.” And yes, indeed, every person is so…”
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” Agree or not, but these words from The Alchemist determine…”
Including a quote from an authoritative and influential person can help support your argument and create an intriguing hook. The key is to make sure that you clearly show how the quote is relevant to your essay.
“John Wooden once said, ‘Never mistake activity for achievement.'”
“Learn to laugh” were the first words from my kindergarten teacher after Ralph Thorsen spilled paint on my daffodil picture.
Don’t be afraid to employ this type of hook. Remember, even if you start with a humorous anecdote, it doesn’t mean that your entire essay has to be funny. A bit of humor can help you grab readers’ attention and spark their interest in the topic.
“As my cousin and I pedaled our new bikes to the beach, 6 years old, suntanned and young, we met an old, shaggy-haired man weaving unsteadily on a battered old bike.”
“When I was a young boy, my father worked at a coal mine. For 27 years, he made it his occupation to scrape and claw and grunt his way into the bowels of the earth, searching for fuel. On April 19, 2004, the bowels of the earth clawed back.”
Keep in mind that most essay assignments will ask you to avoid using the first person. Be sure to check any requirements before using “I” in your writing.
Almost nothing can attract interest better than a well-constructed question. Readers will want to continue reading your essay in order to discover the answer. Be sure to avoid simple “Yes” or “No” questions and try to pose questions that ask reader to consider the other side or engage in some critical thinking.
“What would you do if you could play God for a day? That’s exactly what the leaders of the tiny island nation of Guam tried to answer.”
“Have you ever wondered, whether Anna Karenina still loved Alexei if she hadn’t decided to commit a suicide?”
People respond well to visual cues. Taking the time to set a detailed scene will help your reader have a clear picture in their minds and create an effective hook. You can describe an incident or detail the particular features of a person or a character to help the readers become immersed in your writing.
“The day of his birth began with Hurricane Charlie pounding at our door in Charleston, South Carolina.”
“Deciding to attend Hampton Roads Academy, a private school, was one of my most difficult decisions.”
These types of hooks start by surprising the reader with something that may not have known. Provide an interesting fact about something you are going to discuss in your essay’s body and your audience will want to keep reading to learn more.
“Spain, though hardly a literary juggernaut, translates more books in one year than the entire Arab world has in the past one thousand years.”
“Amiable is the best way to describe Elizabeth’s personality: she was friendly and caring.”
There is no harm in getting right to the point. Start with your main argument and use the rest of your essay to support your point of view. If you have an interesting take on a subject, readers will want to see where you came up with your idea.
“It is time, at last, to speak the truth about Thanksgiving, and the truth is this. Thanksgiving is really not such a terrific holiday. . .”
“Humans need to invest more time and money into space exploration because Earth is on a certain path to destruction.”
The most interesting essays will teach the readers something new. If you start your introduction by showing that a commonly accepted truth is actually false, your readers will be instantly hooked.
“Any parent will tell you that goldfish are a great first pet for a child. They hardly need any attention, and they won’t be around for too long. Flushing a goldfish in its first week is pretty common—it even happened to my first goldfish. But it turns out that goldfish aren’t as helpless as we all think.”
“While most coffee enthusiasts would tell you that their favorite drink comes from a bean, they would be wrong. Coffee is actually made from a seed that is simply called a bean.”
By listing proven facts at the very beginning of your paper, you will create interest that can be carried throughout the rest of the essay.
“The average iceberg weighs over 100,000 metric tons.”
“70% of all jobs found today were got through different networking strategies”
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Depending on the style of essay you are writing (narrative, persuasive, personal, critical, argumentative, deductive, etc.), the type of hook you will want to use will vary. Remember, your essay hook is just a tip of an iceberg and it will not guarantee that the rest of your essay will work. Be sure to organize your research and start with an outline before deciding on the best hook to start your essay. The right choice can make your paper truly interesting and worth reading.
Written by Lesley J. Vos, our blog writer and essay proofreader. Lesley is a big fan of reading, and she is always ready to help students come up with good ideas for their papers and reach their academic goals. You can always find her on Facebook and Google+.