Bulbine semibarbata

Family: Asphodelaceae

Bulbine semibarbata is a clumping and monocotyledonous herbaceous annual to perennial, to 50 cm tall.

It has a large natural distirbution across NSW, growing from the coast out to the far western plains. It is only sparsely found in coastal NSW but more commonly found inland. It is found over southern Queensland, north to about Marion Downs. It grows through much of Victoria and southern South Australia. It also grows in northern and eastern Tasmania and a large part of south-western Western Australia. 

It is typically found on the edge of salt lakes as well as granite outcrops in rocky sclerophyll shrubland and woodland.

Bulbine spp. have simple lily-like leaves, produced in a basal clump. In this species, they are green to blue-green, are up to 30 centimetres long, and only 0.5 cm wide, with a channel and succulent (resembling leek or chives). 

Bulbine spp. have flowers with 6 tepals (3 petals and 3 sepals that are not differentiated – a typical “lily” feature). In this species, the bright yellow star-like flowers are approximately 2 cm wide and are borne on multiple racemes to 40 cm long, consisting of up to 35 flowers and are odorous, from September to December.

Bulbine spp. produce a capsule. In this species, it is to 5 mm long with seeds to 2 mm long. 

In the garden

This species is known to be cultivated. It does live as an annual in many instances but could still be grown en masse to good effect. 

Bulbine semibarbata could be cultivated in native cottage gardens and rockeries. It can tolerate moist soils as well as rocky soils. 

It is best used in large numbers to create an effect. This could be done by letting plants self seed and spread through the garden. It is best grown in full sun. Great for rockeries and around ponds. 


This native perennial propagates readily from seed.

Other information

Individually Bulbine semibarbata plants are not very prominent. Fortunately, the species will self seed. This is, of course, increases plant numbers and boosts the impact of the species in the garden.

This species likely regenerates from seed after fire. It has fibrous roots and not really a rhizome. 

Bulbine is a genus of about 50 species, found in South Africa and Australia. Australia has about 5 endemic species. 

Bulbine translated from Greek – volvos (βολβος) meaning “bulbous”, referring to the bulb-shaped rhizome of many members of this genus.

semibarbata – Latin translating to ‘half-bearded’ – referring to the hairs at the base of the anthers of some of the stamens.

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) – Bulbine semibarbata profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Bulbine~semibarbata

VicFlora – Flora of Victoria Online – Bulbine semibarbata profile page https://vicflora.rbg.vic.gov.au/flora/taxon/42fae5c6-9999-4ac6-b73e-9aa63d6b3624

By Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.