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Calostemma purpureum

Calostemma purpureum

Garland Lily

Calostemma purpureum R.Br.

Calostemma purpureum, commonly known as the Garland Lily, belongs to the Amaryllidaceae, a large family well recognised in horticulture for such exotic plants as the Daffodil, Belladonna Lily and Nerines.

The family is not well represented in Australia and Calostemma is the only wholly endemic genus.

C. purpureum is the most common member of the genus and occurs in western New South Wales, north-western Victoria and in South Australia. lt is well-known plant of the Riverina district, on both flood plains and rocky ridges.

The yellow flowered Calostemma luteum has been considered a synonym of C. purpureum by some botanists, but the Australian Plant Census recognises the two as distinct species.

distribution map

It has been grown in the Australian National Botanic Gardens for many years and has performed well, flowering each summer between January and March. As with the exotic Nerines, Calostemma often flowers in a leafless state, the narrow, shining-green, strap-like leaves usually preceding flowering and reaching a length of 25-30 cm.

Blooms are borne in an umbel of six to eighteen flowers on a leafless stem, 20-50 cm high. Flower *colour is a purplish red with a tube sometimes paler and the anthers yellow. Each trumpet-shaped flower is held on a long, thin pedicel and is about 2 cm long.

The plant makes an ideal rockery subject, taking up very little space but extending its flowering stem high enough to become obvious. lt may also be used in tight rows in more formal situations as the Nerines are often used.

Propagation is simple as the capsules often begin to shoot in storage before sowing. The germination mechanism is complex and will not be described here.

No pests have been noted.

* RHS Colour Chart, 1966: corolla tube, red-purple group 70B paling to red-purple group 70D at base; corona, yellow-white group 158D at maturity; anthers, yellow group 12B.

Name meaning: Calostemma purpureum

Calostemma ­ from the Greek, kalos, beautiful, and stemma, crown;

purpureum ­ from the Latin, purple.

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