Stypandra glauca

Nodding Blue-lily

Family: Asphodelaceae

An erect clumping lily-herbaceous and rhizomatous perennial to 1.5 metres tall, with aerial flowering stems. 

It has a massive natural occurrence in NSW and Australia, growing along the entirety of the coast, tablelands and western slopes subdivisions and into the western and far western plains (scant on the North Coast subdivision). It extends somewhat into Queensland, generally between the coast and Toowoomba. It grows through most of Victoria except for the north-west are and south-west coastal area. It is found in South Australia, east of Adelaide and around Wudinna and Lock. It is common in the south-west of Western Australia, generally between Kalbarri, Kalgoorlie, Israelite Bay and the very south-west tip (Augusta).

It is generally found in dry sclerophyll forest and woodland as well as open shrublands and mallee-country, often on sandy and rocky soils as well as some heavier soils. They can dominate the groundlayer of some habitats (such as inland scribbly gum woodland and similar habitats on higher ground) – especially after fire.

This is the only species in the genus. This species has simple leaves, arranged in an alternate to spiral arrangement on erect stems; to about 20 cm long by 1.5 cm wide, with a sheathing base and flat-open above and with an acuminate apex; blue-green to blue (glaucous) in colour.

Stypandra has Dianella-like flowers with 6 tepals (3 sepals and petals which are undifferentiated) with 6 stamens and 1 carpel (bisexual), arranged in terminal cymose clusters. The cluster is up to 15 cm long by 5 cm wide; flowers generally blue in colour – sometimes white; each flower to 30 mm across.

This species produces a capsule, which is obovoid and triquetrous in cross-section, to 12 mm long and to 3 mm wide. 

In the garden

This is not the most attractive of plants but it is akin to Dianellas and is closely related. In full flower- that can be very attractive but otherwise tend to look a bit straggly and strappy when seen in the bush. But a plant worth trying for its showy blue flowers. 

It is best planted in full to part sun (not overly shady) on a well-draining soil. It can likely be cut back after a few years to reinvigorate it and widen the clump. 

It can be used to provide some foliage contrast. It may be better planted in several numbers to broaden the effect. 

(This Editor has recently transplanted a plant into his garden in Sydney – on sandstone soil – and it is establishing and starting to grow). 

Very useful plant for dry inland gardens. 

It needs very little attention once established. 


Seeds works but can be very slow.

The best method is to divide clumps / rhizomes and replant in the cooler months. 

Other information

This species easily and readily regenerates after fire – from the rhizomes mainly. 

Flowering stems can be toxic to stock. 

Stypandra is a genus of 1 species (mono-specific) – endemic to Australia but may also occur in New Caledonia. 

Stypandra from Greek – Stypa / Stipa (Στύπα) – meaning “fibres of flax or reed” and – andras (aνδρας) – meaning “man” – capturing the woolly stamens of this species. 

glaucaLatin – “glaucous” – referring to the colour of the plant

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

Australian National Herbarium – Stypandra glauca profile page    https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2007/stypandra-glauca.html 

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

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 Dan Clarke and Jeff Howes.