Blandfordia nobilis

Christmas Bells, Gadigalbudyari (in Cadigal language)

Family: Blandfordiaceae

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

It is confined mostly to the Greater Sydney Area, south from around Wyong, growing close to the coast, south to about Milton and inland to Braidwood and Tarago area. 

It is typically found on sandstone and sandy country, in swampy heath, as well as sclerophyllous shrubland and woodland. 

The leaves are stiff and grass-like, up to 75 cm long and to 0.5 cm wide, mid to dark green in and with a distinctive channel in the middle and keeled on the other side. 

The flowering stems are unbranched, up to 80 cm long, with between three and twenty flowers produced in a terminal cluster. Flowers are to 30 mm long and about 1 cm wide, on a pedicel up to 35 mm long, with a small bract near its base. The flowers have a tubular to campanulate (bell) shape and red to brown-red in colour with yellow lobes, occurring from December to January.

Seeds are produced in a capsule about 60 mm long, on a stalk up to 25 mm long.

In the garden

This species is known to be cultivated and is easily propagated from seed. 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.

A good cut flower that has been grown commercially in the past. 


It can be propagated successfully from fresh seed, 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 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; 

nobilis – Latin referring to ‘noble’ or ‘famous’ – possibly referring to the eye-catching nature of the species.

Blandfordia nobilis was first formally described in 1804 by English botanist James Edward Smith.

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

Australian National Herbarium – Blandfordia nobilis profile page

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Blandfordia nobilis profile page

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

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