Calostemma purpureum

Garland Lily

Family: Amaryllidaceae

A clump-forming lily (monocot) with a bulb.

It has a large natural distribution, growing on the western slopes, western plains and far western plains of NSW, Garland Lily occurs in western NSW, extending only slightly into Queensland in the south; very prevalent in the south-east of South Australia and also in north western Victoria.

It grows in a variety of habitats such as dry sclerophyll woodland and shrubland, often near watercourse and sites subject to periodic flooding. Also found in rocky areas.

Calostemma have simple, lily-type leaves emerging from a bulb. In this species, they are to 60 cm long by up to 2 cm wide, glossy green and fairly typical of the family.

Calostemma have six tepals (3 petals and 3 sepals which are undifferentiated), fused into a tube woth resulting lobes. In this species, they are about 40 mm long, arranged in an umbel of up to 30, purplish red in colour. The stamens are arranged in a corona where the filaments are all fused together.

Plants can produce multiple flowering stems. In common with some other members of the Amaryllidaceae, it often flowers in a leafless state in summer and early autumn when there are fewer flowers to be seen in gardens, otherwise the leaves are persistent.

The fruits are capsules, to 15 mm in diametre, which splits as the seed matures.

In the garden

Author’s notes:

Calostemma purpureum seems to be one of those plants that gained popularity and then, for some unknown reason, just stop being around, at least in the local area of Newcastle. I can recall, when first starting a native garden, seeing this attractive plant in other members’ gardens and also available to buy in specialist nurseries. I am pleased that I have “rediscovered” this lily and had the pleasure of many flowering heads during late summer.

Calostemma makes a delightful rockery plant that could be used as a massed planting or planted in pockets where it would grow taller than lower or prostrate plants and so add another dimension to a rockery display. I have noticed that leaves will die off in dry times even during peak growth times so some watering and mulching will be beneficial during dry periods. In my experience, Calostemma will tolerate some shade.

It is said to tolerate a range of soils, with reliable moisture, in full sun. A very eye-catching species worth growing.


Propagation is easy, the fruits can be collected green or as soon as they fall and they sometimes begin germination in a storage envelope. I have not noticed any particular pests but I’m sure slugs and snails would enjoy them.

Other information

Callistemma is a genus of only two species, both endemic to Australia, occurring in the eastern mainland states and South Australia. NSW has this one sole species.

Can likely regenerate from the bulbs after fire.

Calostemma – from the Greek – Kalos (καλός) meaning “beautiful” and –stemma (στέμμα) meaning “crown” – capturing the corona of stamens in the flowers which resemble a crown.

purpureum – Latin – meaning “purple” – referring to the colour of the flowers.

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

Australian National Herbarium – Calostemma purpureum profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp7/callostemma-purpureum.html

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

Gardening with Angus – Calostemma purpureum profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/calostemma-purpureum-garland-lily/

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 Kevin Stokes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.