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The Fringe Lily - Thysanotus multiflorus

Brian Roach

Plants with 'strappy' or grass-like foliage seem to be greatly in demand with native plant enthusiasts. They range from the likes of the large Gymea lily (Doryanthes excelsa) and Swamp lily (Crinum pedunculatum) down to more petite plants such as many of the Conostylis and the 'Bobby Dazzler' for this month, Thysanotus multiflorus.

Thysanotus tuberosus
  Not Thysanotus multiflorus - but the eastern species T.tuberosus shows the delicate fringe on the flowers which is typical of the genus.

Thysanotus multiflorus grows only to about the size of a soccer-ball with lush, mid-green foliage rising in narrow strips from the centre of the plant. Such contrasting foliage is itself enough to justify dotting the plants around any garden but when they flower in mid-spring what gems they produce. As the common name suggests, the purple 3-petalled flowers are fringed by the most delicate collection of hairs that produce a halo effect around each flower. Flowers are produced on short but strong stems that protrude just above the ambit of the foliage.

Although this plant hails from Western Australia, it is quite easy to grow in eastern parts of Oz. A sunny, well-drained position is vital to ensure maximum flowering. They also make wonderful pot plants. What is more, it's easy to grow from seed and no pre-treatment is required. Seed can usually be obtained from those tourist outlets that sell packets of native plant seed. New plants can also be obtained by division of clumps in late autumn or early winter. Snails can be a problem so be on your guard in that respect.

From "Blandfordia', the newsletter of the North Shore Group of the Australian Plants Society, November 2002.

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