Bulbine bulbosa

Bulbine Lily, Wild Onion, Golden Lily, Leek Lily, Yellow Onion Weed and Native Leek

Family: Asphodelaceae

It grows throughout temperate Australia from central Queensland to Tasmania and South Australia as well as all over NSW, usually on heavier soils.

It grows in a variety of habitats including dry sclerophyll woodlands and forests as well as grasslands and rock crevices. It can be found in large numbers in cleared and regenerating open grassy areas after rain.

The green-grey leaves are round, succulent and channelled growing to 40 cm long and about 8 mm wide.  The bright yellow star-like flowers are approximately 2 cm wide and are borne on racemes of up to 50 flowers and are odorous. Each flower reportedly lasts for just one day, with one to several opening at a time. Stamens have a tuft of hairs.

In the garden

In the author’s Sydney garden, B. bulbosa only reaches 50 cm tall and often less depending on moisture levels.

B. bulbosa is an attractive species. It is especially suited to rockeries and cottage gardens and is also excellent as a container plant. It will grow in full or part sun and tolerates a variety of soils provided reasonable drainage is available. It is also frost hardy making it suitable for regions with cooler climates. B. bulbosa is best maintained with regular watering throughout the year. It will likely do better on a loam to clay soil but with some drainage.


Two methods may be used for propagation – seed or division. This plant will self-seed in the garden but not enough to be a problem, so these seedlings can be dug up and potted on.

Other information

It appears to be toxic to stock in large quantities.

B. bulbosa is also useful as a food plant. The plump, round corms were traditionally eaten by Aboriginal people. The corms are best roasted and can be eaten all year round, although it will take a few years initially for the corm to mature.

Aboriginal names for B. bulbosa include “Parm”, “Puewan” and “Pike”.

Bulbine: translated from Gk. volvos (βολβος) meaning “bulbous”, referring to the bulb-shaped tuber of many members of this genus.
bulbosa: Latin meaning “bulb” (though the species does not have a true bulb).
Not known to be at risk in the wild.


By Jeff Howes