T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Doryanthes palmeri (Giant Spear Lily)

Kingdom: Plantae
Unranked: Angiosperms
Unranked: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Doryanthaceae
Genus: Doryanthes
Species: D. palmeri
Binomial name: Doryanthes palmeri
Common Name: Giant Spear Lily

Doryanthes palmeri is a monocot plant native to eastern Australia. It is one of the largest Lily species. It was thought to belong to the Agavaceae family until genetic evidence showed that it is younger than the agaves. Therefore it was given its own family, Doryanthaceae. It has long sword-like leaves (up to 3m) which form in rosettes and are ribbed to provide structural support. 
Doryanthes palmeri flowers in spring but can take over 13 years to flower. Each rosette flowers once in its lifetime, but after flowering, the plant is able to produce more rosettes. It has a flowering stalk, called a scape, which can grow to 5m tall. Unlike the other species in this genus (Doryanthes excelsa) the Doryanthes palmeri stalk droops rather than standing upright due to the weight of the flowers. Individual flowers are red or reddish-orange and are up to 10 cm in diameter. It is pollinated by birds, which are attracted to its bright red flowers. The fruit is egg-shaped and 7- 9 cm long.
Doryanthes palmeri is a slow-growing but very long-lived species.  A colony can live 100 years or more

In Australia roasted, Doryanthes flower spikes were used as a food source for indigenous people and the roots were mashed into a pulp and made into cakes.

Photographed at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth.

Topside of a leaf.

The underside of a leaf with large centre supporting rib.

This plant is growing by the Devon St bridge over the Te Henui stream. Flowers more orange coloured than the above plant.