Gymea Lily-Doryanthes-Spear Lily

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Gymea lilies are spectacular Australian native plants with large, compact heads of nectar filled red flowers atop tall, thick stems. Most Australian natives resent being transplanted, but Gymea lilies can be dug up, moved and planted bare rooted. Don looked at a specimen which was purchased from a plantation two years ago. It has already developed into a full sized plant, and it is now flowering.

Plant details

Common name:

Gymea Lily, Flame Lily, Spear Lily

Botanic name:

Doryanthes excelsa


Australian native perennial lily with rosettes of large sword-shaped, light green leaves over 1m (3′) long . In spring and summer, deep blood-red flowers appear on the end of tall stems or scapes up to 6m (20′) tall. Flowers are followed by woody capsules which split open when ripe, releasing flat, slightly winged seeds. Plants grown from seed take 6-7 years to flower.

Best climate:

Doryanthes excelsa grows best in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, and inland zones. It will also grow in cooler areas but the flower spikes are sometimes damaged by frosts.

Good points:

Spectacular red flowers flowers are attractive to nectar feeding birds handsome bright green foliage excellent feature plant for large gardens


Although seed germinates easily, plants grown from seed are slow growing and take years to flower.
Care: Gymea lilies need deep, well-drained soil and a position in full sun to filtered shade.
Getting started:
Plants can be grown from seed, and established clumps can be divided. Gymea lilies are available from nurseries and specialist native plant nurseries (see below). Expect to pay around $15 for 1505mm (7″) pots, and $65-70 for 300mm pot. If your nursery does not stock advanced plants, they will be able to order them in for you. (Note: plants must not be removed from the bush.)

Native Plant Nurseries:


Sydney Wildflower Nursery South, Heathcote, NSW. Phone: (02) 9548 2818


Fairhill Native Plants, Yandina, QLD. Phone: (07) 5446 7088

Nielsen’s Native Nursery, Loganholme, QLD. Phone: (07) 3806 1414


Kuranga Native Nursery, Mt. Evelyn, VIC. Phone: (03) 9760 8100


Nellie Nursery, Mannum, SA. Phone: (08) 8569 1762


Zanthorrea Nursery, Maida Vale, WA. Phone: (08) 9454 6260