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Blue Flax Lily

BSA Plant Guide

Blue Flax Lily (Dianella caerulea, Dianella revoluta)

Family: Asphodelaceae

Size: To 1.5m

Description: Tufted understory clumping rushes with grass like strap leaves with sprays of globular blue purple berries, often forming dense mats. 15 species of flax Lily are found in Australia.

Habitat: Flax lilies are found in dry woodlands, moist open forests, rainforests and coastal dunes along the east coast.

Foliage: Alternate, dark green stem, strap like leaves (70cm x 20mm) with thick mid vein. Strong and fibrous with sheathed bases. Rhizomes: Brown to 6mm

Flowers: Small purple/blue flowers with six petals and a yellow black centre. Flowering from spring through summer

Fruits/seeds: Globular blue-purple fruit to 15mm with spongy pulp containing several small black seeds. Fruits held in open sprays on top of tall upright stems. Edible species are: D. caerulea, D. revoluta, D. amoena, D. pavopennacea, D bambusifolia.

Distribution: Widespread in all Australian states.

Uses: Purple fruits of many (not all) Dianella species are edible and have a sweet and slightly nutty flavour (don’t eat too many), others have a horrible burning taste (D. tasmanica) and are not edible. White leaf bases of some Dianella species are edible raw or cooked (D. revoluta). Juice from the fruit used as a dye (dark blue) and traditionally rubbed into sea ulcers. Fibrous leaves used for weaving dillies and baskets and can be split in two and twisted to make a strong string or rope. Rhizomes traditionally eaten after roasting and pounding.

Dianella caerulea (edible) - NSW
Dianella caerulea (edible) - NSW
Dianella tasmanica (not edible) - TAS