Bulbine vagans

Family: Asphodelaceae

A clumping herbaceous and monocotyledonous perennial to 60 cm high with thick roots.

In NSW, it is only found on the northern tablelands, north from about Walcha, extending north past Armidale and Glen Innes across the border into Queensland where it is more common. It extends north towards Toowoomba with disjunctions near Bell and a large disjunction to east of Biloela. 

It grows in cliff crevices in gorges in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest and cliff-shrubland, often on granite or other rocky substrates. 

Bulbine spp. have simple lily-like leaves, produced in a basal clump. In this species, they are to 30 cm long by about 0.6 cm wide, shiny, green and with a channel. 

Bulbine spp. have flowers with 6 tepals (3 petals and 3 sepals that are not differentiated – a typical “lily” feature). In this species, each flowering scape is to 60 cm long, holding up to 45 bright yellow flowers, each about 25 mm across, mainly in spring to mid-summer.

The fruit is a capsule to 4 mm long with seeds to 3 mm long. 

In the garden

Bulbine vagans is a beautiful, free flowering perennial that would make an eye-catching addition to cottage gardens, rockeries and containers. This is a native plant that has great horticultural potential and needs more recognition and cultivation.

It is known to be cultivated and is sold by some native nurseries (see reference links).

Author’s notes: In our cold climate garden there is a problem. Our resident kangaroos have become partial to the foliage and we have to either protect plants with cages or grow in pots away from hungry macropods.

It grows well in full sun to part shade, on a rocky or other free-draining soil with fast drainage. The yellow flowers are very attractive. Best grown in a patch of about 10 to 20 plants for best results. 


Propagate from seed that germinates readily and rapidly. B. vagans, once established, will self seed and appear in various places in the garden.

Other information

The type specimen was probably collected in central Queensland in 1977. The species name refers to the thick leaves.

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

This species likely regenerates after fire from the seedbank as well as potentially the thick root system.

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

vagans – Latin referring to “wandering” (root of “vagrant”) – referrring to the colonising nature of plants in the wild. 

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

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Bulbine bulbosa profile page          https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Bulbine~vagans 

Burringbar Rainforest Nursery – Facebook Post – Bulbine vagans https://www.facebook.com/burringbarrainforestnursery/posts/bulbine-vagans-golden-lilya-clumping-native-to-60cm-with-very-showy-golden-yello/1561287434205043/

By Warren and Gloria Sheather