Doryanthes - - Semi-mature and mature Doryanthus excelsa

02 9652 0300


Doryanthus excelsa - Gymea Lily, Flame Lily, Spear Lily, Gigantic Lily, Torch Lily, lllawarra Lily



Doryanthaceae (formerly Agavaceae)


Australia on sandstone soils around Sydney between Wollongong and Wyong.

Plant Type:

An evergreen soft wooded perennial.


The clump of leaves up to 2.5m tall, the flower stems 2 to 5m tall.

Habit/ Form:

A huge rosette of large erect lanceolate leaves form a large clump, out of which arise thick fleshy flower stems that support the large red flowers; at the top of the stem.


A rosette of erect lanceolate leaves, the leaves 1 to 2.5m long x 100mm wide, margins entire and slightly undulate, leathery, mid green to dark green.


Loose funnelform six petalled flowers, 120 - 140mm across, the broad linear petals deep red on the outside and rosy red on the inside. The flowers are in a large dense clump (a compact globular panicle) at the top of fleshy flowers stems, which have scattered broad linear leaves along the entire length of the stems. Main flowering spring and summer. Young flower stems (about 500mm tall) were collected and cooked by the aborigines


A 100mm long capsule, green aging to dark brown / black.

Bark / Trunk:

Vigour / Longevity:

Slow to moderate, moderately long lived.

Environmental Requirements:

A very hardy plant once established. Will grow well in very sunny positions to dappled shade.


Not frost tolerant when young, some frost tolerance when older (flowers may be damaged by any more than light frosts), some drought tolerance if growing in the shade, will show leaf damage if the drought is severe or too long.

Soil / Drainage:

Hardy to most soils with good drainage and some added organic matter.


The flower stems are usually cut away after they have faded, or cut for cut flower use.


While this plant will tolerate some drought its foliage will remain in much better condition if it is well watered.


Leaf colour and growth rate are both dramatically improved with applications of native plant fertilisers during the growing season.

Pests / Diseases:

The flowers are prone to frost damage and the leaves will burn in prolonged droughts.


Attracts nectar and insect eating birds. A very large and bold architectural plant suitable for accent plantings, habit contrasts, flower colour contrasts, native gardens, cut flower and cut foliage for floral art, large tubs, mass plantings for screens, council roadside plantings.



© Text reproduced here with the kind permission of Tony Wilson and Barck Books.



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