Today we feature another plant whose taxonomic classification remains a site of some contestation. At issue here, it seems, is the independent and autonomous status of the family Hemerocallidaceae, which derives its name from the daylily genus, Hemerocallis. The eponymous genus is regularly included in Liliaceae, but the relevant species are also commonly and variously considered members of Xanthorrhoeaceae or Phormiaceae. Whatever the proper classification, the plants themselves are equipped with terminal inflorescences that put forth perfect (bisexual) flowers composed, in part, of six recurved tepals and prominent nectaries. Species, which include New Zealand flax (Phormium ssp.), generally produce many-seeded berry or capsule fruit.
Dianella consists of about 30 rhizomatous herb or subshrub species, many of which are, like today’s plant, native to Australia. Plants variously enjoy a wide range of habitats and soil conditions, thriving both in dry woodlands and moist lowland forests. Species exhibit strap-like, deep-green leaves and up-curved blue, purple, or white 6-tepaled flowers that hang an inch or so above the yellow-hued stamens and the attractive berries.
Dianella caerulea—an evergreen perennial herb whose 7 varieties flower throughout the spring and summer—is distributed throughout Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania. Additionally, the plant, which is commonly known as the paroo lily, has a long history of cultivation in Great Britain that extends as far back as the last quarter of the 18th century. The species, which requires little maintenance in cultivation, is hardy both to drought and to frost.
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