Saturday, July 23, 2011

Doryanthes palmeri, Spear Lily

Sir Arthur Palmer 1819-1898
Queensland Premier 1870 -1874

Doryanthes palmeri named in his honour.
The giant spear lily is just starting to flower with its enormous flower spike (a panicle technically) snaking skywards up to 5 metres.This species is found on cliffs and rocky hillsides above 600 metres, from Mt Warning in northern New South Wales to Mt Mistake in Queensland. I prefer this species to the more common, especially around Sydney, Doryanthes excelsa , the Gymea Lily, with its more upright flower stem. Doryanthes palmeri has adapted well to cultivation and will grow as far south as Melbourne being tolerant of frost. It adds a lot of drama to a garden with its robust clump forming habit and long leaves even when not in flower. It needs a spot in rocky well drained soil preferable on a slope. Propagation is usually from seed but seed grown plants will take up to ten years to flower. If collecting seed you need to wait at least six months after flowering has finished for seed to be mature. I have never attempted to divide a clump which is another way of getting new plants but I imagine it would be a bit like trying to divide a clump of Strelitzia, Bird of Paradise. You could do all that work only to find it fails to flourish after planting.
2017 update: I have limited stock available in 200mm pots.

Doryanthes palmeri


  1. The plant itself is so architectural and beautiful. I know what you mean about strelitzia. I have a big clump from which I have never got a viable new plant :(

  2. I love this plant, we are planting four tubes in the morning - it's striking lines make a great contrast in the garden.