Blandfordia grandiflora

Christmas Bells, Gadigalbudyari (in Cadigal language)

Family: Blandfordiaceae

A tufted perennial monocotyledonous herb or lily with thick, fibrous roots and an underground corm.

In NSW, it grows as far south as generally Sydney, extending north through the coast and tablelands areas, as far west as Glen Innes, Armidale and the Blue Mountains, as well as north to Fraser Island in Queensland.

It is typically found growing on moist sandy as well as peaty soils, usually in wet heath or shrubland, as well as sandy woodlands.

Although it is the most robust of the four species, B. grandiflora is very slow growing, so more aggressive plants easily out-compete it in the wild.

Leaves are crowded at the base of the stem, dark to mid-green, to about 70 cm long, and to 0.5 cm wide, flat, channelled, keeled, margins somewhat thickened, flat or more or less rolled upwards, and rough.

The flower stalks are to 1.8 metres tall with flowers bell-shaped (campanulate), typically flaring-out at the ends, usually to 60 mm long and to 40 mm in diameter, red to orange with 6 yellow lobes, or wholly yellow, produced in loose clusters that can have up to 20-flowers; occurring in late spring to early summer.

Seeds are produced in a capsule about 60 mm long, on a stalk also up to 60 mm long.

In the garden

This species is known to be cultivated and is easily propagated from seed. However, seedlings can take 3 years to flower. Once you have plants established, they are best propagated by division.

It needs a well-drained sandy soil along with reliable water to keep it going long-term. It grows best where the soil is naturally deep and light (sandy) with fairly constant moisture. One example is an area of natural water seepage used for moisture-loving and swampy plants.

It prefers to be grown in full sun, in coastal regions and not colder, drier shady positions. It is somewhat frost tolerant.

It can also be grown in a pot very successfully.

A good cut flower that has been grown commercially in the past as the large, distinctive flowers have a long vase life.

The flowers contain nectar and are frequented by honeyeater-birds.


It can be propagated successfully from fresh seed and germinates in about 3 weeks and can also be propagated from divisions.

Other information

Blandfordia is a small genus of 4 species – endemic to eastern Australia. Two of the four species of Blandfordia are restricted to New South Wales, a third species occurs in Queensland, and the fourth only occurs in Tasmania. Although it is the most robust of the four species, B. grandiflora is very slow growing.

It has been a popular cut flower in Sydney and although it is a protected species, over-collecting in the past has caused localised extinction and damage to the habitat of the species.

The species was illustrated on Australian stamps issued in 1960 and Christmas 1967.

It has been observed flowering en masse in areas regenerating from fire. Likely regenerates from the corms below ground.

Blandfordia – named after George Spencer-Churchill (1766–1840), Marquis of Blandford;

grandiflora – Latin – grandis meaning “great” or “large”  and the suffix –flora meaning “flowered” – referring to the comparatively larger flowers of this species.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

NSW Flora online (PlantNET) Blandfordia grandiflora profile page

Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) – Blandfordia grandiflora profile page

Wikipedia – Blandfordia grandiflora profile page

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.