Friday, July 3, 2009

Gymea Lily

It's rather exciting when you wait over five years for a flower and it finally appears! A friend gave me this plant. She had it in a pot and it looked to have at least a year's growth on it then. So I guess the plant must be at least 6 years old. The flower spike has been slowly growing for months and it has taken ages for it to finally open. The spike is not fully open even now but I am not sure how much more it will open in the Queensland winter.
The Gymea Lily (Doryanthes escelsa) grows naturally in open forest and woodland along the New South Wales Coast around Sydney and Newcastle. It makes a splendid specimen plant in a garden and can be bought from nurseries and garden shops. The plant keeps growing after the flower spike dies and I am told that the next flower will be even larger. In ideal conditions the spike can grow up to 6 meters tall.
The base of the plant - this also will grow larger.
The plant showing the flower spike extending up above the surrounding trees and palms.
Gymea lilies have pleasant memories for me. We lived in Newcastle when I was in my teens and my Father showed me this flower growing in the bush. He called it a 'Mountain Lily'. Although it is sometimes called a 'Giant Lily' I cannot find Dad's name for it in the references I consulted.


  1. WOW - You're going to have to move to a very very tall house Mick. What a fascinating plant though..

  2. Hi Tricia, well, tall plants around my house can shut out everything around me and make it seem like I am NOT living in a town :-)

  3. G'day Mick,
    That's a fascinating looking thing. Don't know if you did it deliberately to fool innocents like me, but looking at the first couple of pics I had no idea of its height until I scrolled down to the last shot - wow.
    Seems like it triggers fond memories for you, that's wonderful.

  4. Hi Gouldiae, nah - I'm not that subtle or tricky either! Its just that plant is a nice shape but the flower spike is spectacular.

  5. Hi Mick!
    I've seen a couple of these when I lived in Sydney before. Now I know what they are called :) They are spectacular indeed and the waiting has been worthwhile. You are lucky to have it in your garden. I'm curious if some particular birds will visit it when it's in full bloom. Please, keep us updated.
    You'll need a special tower to smell the flower though :D

    ps. something small here for you

  6. Hi Nickolay, I've seen Blue-faced Honeyeaters sitting on the flower but so far none have waited for me to get the camera out :-(

  7. That is quite a plant and a half, Mick. Well worth the wait. Though if the flower stem grows any longer you will have to get a ladder to photograph it.

    Hope you manage to catch a photo of the honeyeater on it.

  8. Hi John, yes it was worth waiting for. It will be interesting when the next flower appears (in a year or so I guess) to just see how much bigger and taller it is.

  9. Hi Mick
    I have tried these plants, without success. So I am jealous.
    Nickolay has beaten me to the suggestion of wanting a photo of a Gymea Lily flower with a large Honeyeater on top.
    So we wait patiently for an update post.

  10. Hi Denis, I have passed on the suggestion to my local birds - and either they are not listening or they don't understand - because so far they have not obliged!