The giant spear lily

Sometimes you walk past something and don’t even recognise it – that’s often the case with me and plants. I don’t know as much as I’d like – and the more I know, the more I realise I don’t know – but I’m getting better with the botany. Copy-editing botany books, as I do occasionally, certainly helps.

Yesterday just before lockdown was visited upon us again, we visited the Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens. Although it opened in 2013, I’d never been there.

It is relatively small but impressive nevertheless. I’d like to volunteer there but Wednesday (when the work days are) is one of my days at the museum – perhaps I’ll follow up that opportunity in the future.

I walked past a very large plant that looked like a gymea lily (Doryanthes excelsa), then took a second look as the flower was not like the spectacular gymea – it was even more spectacular! Fortunately there was a volunteer nearby doing some watering, so I collared him for an answer.

Doryanthes palmeri; photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek, Wikimedia Commons

It is the giant spear lily (Doryanthes palmeri), a vulnerable species endemic to the Mt Warning/Wollumbin caldera area in northern New South Wales. For a scientific paper on it, click here. The gymea lily (endemic to southern Sydney and the Illawarra, and apparently to several Lismore streets) is the only other member of the genus. I’ve probably walked past giant spears on my ramblings on the Scenic Rim, but assumed they were gymeas.

My font of information at the gardens said various honeyeaters will happily sip from it – not surprising as there are certainly very many flowers on a flower spike that may reach a height of 5 metres.

It is always a pleasure to talk to knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers.

This entry was posted in Plants and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The giant spear lily

  1. Roselene says:

    What a wonderful discovery!
    I’ve only seen Doryanthes excelsa, around the Sydney region. It also is found in the north of Sydney and the Central Coast region.

  2. Tiiu Vanamois says:

    joy I love your photos! thank you for info too. i saw echidna the other day too! only 3rd time in 19 years. i might put a video onto youtube under my name and can i put a bit of info you gave there too please? i still have to join vids and edit. i got some nice pics made int YT video, of hummingbird moth in recent years, the closest oz has to humminbird. cheers from tiiu vanamois in murringo near young nsw. grassy box woodland areas, danabilla range is nearby.

    On Fri, Sep 17, 2021 at 11:35 AM A-roving I will go wrote:

    > Joy Window posted: “Sometimes you walk past something and don’t even > recognise it – that’s often the case with me and plants. I don’t know as > much as I’d like – and the more I know, the more I realise I don’t know – > but I’m getting better with the botany. Copy-editing botany” >

  3. Hazel says:

    Loved this post. We bought a house on Scotland Island (Sydney Northern Beaches) with a giant spear lily which was probably about 13 or 14 years old, and it flowered last year for the first time. The “spear” took about 6-9 months to emerge and was fascinating to watch. It was in flower for months. When I cut the spent inflorescence stalk down it took a saw to do it. Now it has a large number of offshoots around the base. I was glad to read the article you linked for reassurance it will not become weedy. Now that I know it is vulnerable in the wild, I will treasure it even more. It is sited on a rocky slope amongst rock ledges, where I suppose it feels at home. When I have garden debris to dispose of (with no weed seeds of course), I stuff it all down the back of the palmeri where it will be out of sight but help to nourish the plant when it breaks down. It was after 3 years of doing that that it flowered.

  4. Kathy Pearce says:

    I love this plant!

    I have grown the common one from baby stage, and it’s now humongous.

    I refuse to put it in the ground because I want to take it with me when I leave the unit.

    So there it sits on our balcony…

    Looking forward to visiting Lismore Bot Gardens!

    Kath

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s