Arthropodium fimbriatum

Nodding Chocolate Lily

Family: Asparagaceae

A herbaceous erect to pendulous lily, to 1 metre tall, with grassy-leaves and with fibrous roots ending in linear tubers.

It is widespread in NSW, growing in inland central coast areas, spreading through the tablelands, western slopes and western plains. It is also found in Victoria (mainly the western half), south-east Queensland, as well as the east of South Australia and the south-west of Western Australia.

It is often found in dry sclerophyll woodlands and forests, especially in amongst dense native grass layers, usually on clay to loam soils but sometimes on sands. It thrives after rain events.

Arthropodium have simple and linear (lily-type) leaves. In this species, they are up to 35 centimetres long and about 0.4 cm wide and grass-like in appearance; mid to dark green.

Arthropodium spp. have lily-type flowers with 6 tepals (3 petals and 3 sepals whihc are undifferentiated), purple, blue or white in colour. In this species, each plant carries a flower spike carrying about 12 large, mauve flowers, in spring and summer. The flowers have a strong chocolate scent (think – Cadbury’s!). The scent becomes very strong when a number of plants are growing close together.

The fruits is a capsule, and in this species is cyldindrical, to about 7 mm long, releasing black seeds.

In the garden

A plant known to be cultivated. It does best on an enriched loam soil with reliable moisture. It is best planted en masse for best results and to create a show piece.

Author’s notes:

A. fimbriatum, as yet, is not cultivated in our cold climate garden [in the Armidale area] but is common in the regenerating grassland surrounding the garden. The spring of 2016 was a bumper year for Nodding Chocolate Lilies and other native herbaceous species. Triggered by good rain in the preceding autumn and winter Nodding Chocolate Lilies flowered in large numbers. At times the chocolate scent was almost overpowering.

[This Editor recently saw a large patch on a grassy-box woodland property near Bathurst, after substantial rains in 2020-2022].

The Nodding Chocolate Lily has a future as an aromatic addition to native cottage gardens, rockeries and containers particularly when planted en masse.

It could also be planted in pots, possibly around the base of larger shrubs.


Propagate from seed. It may also be done from division if clumps are large enough.

Other information

This species has been subject to substantial taxonomic uncertainty – going from Arthropodium to Dichopogon fimbriatus and back to Arthropodium fimbriatum again.

Arthropodium is a genus of about 18 species. Australia has 13 species of which 12 are endemic. It was previously in the family Anthericaceae but has now been moved to Asparagaceae. NSW currently has 7 formal and informal taxa.

This species likely regenerates after fire from protected rootstocks under the soil as well as any seedbank.

Arthropodium – from Greek – arthrotos (αρθρωτός) meaning “jointed” and –podia (πόδια) – meaning “feet” – referring to the jointed or articulated pedicels of the flowers.

fimbriatum – Latin meaning “fringed” – referring to the leafy-fibres at the base of the leaves.

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

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

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

Castlemaine Flora – Chocolate and Vanilla Lillies – natives (Arthropodium species) https://www.castlemaineflora.org.au/pic/a/arthr/arthr.htm



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