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Calostemma, the forgotten lily, by Kevin Stokes

6 Jun 2019 9:06 PM | HEATHER MILES (Administrator)

Calostemma purpureum seems to be one of those plants that gain popularity and then, for some unknown reason just stop being around, at least in the local area of Newcastle. I can recall, when first starting a native garden, seeing this attractive plant in other members' gardens and also available to buy in specialist nurseries. I am pleased that I have “rediscovered” this lily and had the pleasure of many flowering heads during late summer.

Commonly called Garland Lily, it belongs to the family Amaryllidaceae and is the only wholly endemic genus of that family in Australia.

Garland Lily occurs in western NSW, South Australia and north western Victoria where it is found in a variety of habitats.

This lily makes an attractive rockery plant with leaves approx. 30cm, glossy green and fairly typical of the family. The flower heads are tubular and arranged in an umbel. Colour is purplish red and there can be as many as 16 or so flowers in the umbel and there are multiple stems over the growing period.

In common with some other members of the Amaryllidaceae, it often flowers in a leafless state in summer and early autumn when there are fewer flowers to be seen in gardens, otherwise the leaves are persistent. I have noticed that leaves will die off in dry times even during peak growth times so some watering and mulching will be beneficial during dry periods. In my experience, Calostemma will tolerate some shade.

Calostemma makes a delightful rockery plant that could be used as a massed planting or planted in pockets where it would grow taller than lower or prostrate plants and so add another dimension to a rockery display. 

Propagation is easy, the fruits can be collected green or as soon as they fall and they sometimes begin germination in a storage envelope. I have not noticed any particular pests but I’m sure slugs and snails would enjoy them.


REF: ANBG article, https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp7/callostemma-purpureum.html

Comments

  • 9 Jun 2019 5:29 PM | PETER SHELTON
    I completely agree on the propagation, but maintaining them in my garden has not been quite so easy. SO I'm sure to give a few away. There is often a fabulous display of them at Sylvan Grove Native Garden in Picnic Point.
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