Dianella caerulea

J.G. took today's almost unreal Botany Photo of the Day at the San Francisco Botanical Garden in California, and then posted it in our Flickr Pool one day in late July. Thanks again, J.G.!

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.

Should you like to have a look at J.G.’s original image, click here.

Dianella caerulea

15 responses to “Dianella caerulea”

  1. ThreePaths

    What a beautiful flower. Thanks for sharing.

  2. annie morgan

    Beautiful flower, beautiful photograph, and great write-up.

  3. Mary Ann, in Toronto

    Wow — stunning! You can see the light glisten on the purple tepals, especially on the original-size photo on Flickr (follow the last link in the write-up). On Flickr, the whole series of 4 on this plant is lovely and interesting to see.

  4. Linda T.

    Wow. GREAT close-up shot! So crisp you can almost reach out & touch it!

  5. Jane

    This is one of the most amazing photographs I’ve seen here. Gorgeous flower, superb photo – thank you!

  6. elizabeth a airhart

    just look at what i found in my mail box
    beautiful the colors are so crisp and clean
    the early english water color artists
    must have loved this plant

  7. James Gaither

    Thanks to all for your generous comments…this was a truly fascinating, exquisitely formed–and tiny–subject. I hope that you will check out the entire series of photos–especially the brilliantly colored fruit…

  8. Margaret-Rae Davis

    This is a beautiful photo and I like the seletive focas of the flower. The colours are so nice.
    Thank you,

  9. Deborah Lievens

    Yes, everyone should definitely go to the Flickr site to see the fruit. It is unbelievable. Something out of a fairy tale.

  10. Quin

    just to echo the two previous comments on the fruit – many people miss the flowers but just about NO one misses the fruit (flowers are relatively small, fruit is a larger mass and a real garden-stroller-stopper)

  11. MsWinterfinch

    Thanks for a great photo and interesting write-up.

  12. Tanja

    James, I’d be interested to know which camera you used for these shots. Thanks in advance.

  13. Tanja

    James, I’d be interested to know which camera you used for these lovely shots. Thanks in advance.

  14. Wendy Cutler

    Tanja, Stephen included a link to J.G.’s original image. All the photographic information you could want is available there – the camera and all the settings. Look for it on the right hand side of the page, under the tags.

  15. Michael Stewart

    Are sepals and tepals synonomous?

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