Doryanthus

Doryanthus spp

 

Spear Lily and Gymea Lily

 

You might have seen some large plants with flax-like foliage coming into flower around June. They are Spear Lilies (Doryanthes palmeri). These plants take about ten years to flower and will continue to clump up each year and in time flower every year. The leaves are a broad sword shape and can be more than two metres long giving a dramatic effect in the garden. The tall flower spikes, which can be up to four metres long, tend to grow fairly upright for a start, then arch over and the last 50% of the stem has masses of large red to red-brown star-shaped flowers along its length. The flowers produce copious amounts of nectar much appreciated by the tuis and waxeyes. The flowers are followed later by clusters of brown seed capsules. This plant comes from northern New South Wales and Queensland and usually grows in light shade but is quite happy in full sun. They do not like deeper shade. Free draining soils are best but they will tolerate heavier soils.

This makes a great landscaping plant which grows in a tight clump.

 

 A close relation is the Gymea Lily (Doryanthes excelsa) from eastern New South Wales. This plant has smaller (1.5m) slightly twisted leaves which are also produced in a tight clump. The flower spike is more spectacular as it grows vertically to approximately four metres and is crowned by a large round head of dark red star-like flowers which have a lot of nectar. Particularly beautiful if seen from above which is a bit difficult! You need to plant them where you can see them from a second floor or the top of a bank.