Plants of
South Australia
Dianella tarda
Late-flowered Flax-lily
Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Dianella is a diminutive of Diana, the virginal Roman goddess of hunting and the moon. The original species described was found located in the French woods, thus the hunting association. Tarda from the Latin 'tardus' meaning late, referring to its later daily flowering time, from mid-afternoon to evening.

Distribution and status

Found in the upper Southeast in South Australia with very few collections; growing on roadside vegetation in Allocasuarina luehmannii open grassy woodland on heavy soils. Also found in New South Wales and Victoria. Native. Very rare in South Australia. Rare in the other States.
Herbarium region: South Eastern
NRM region: South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Slender to robust tufted plants forming clumps to 20 cm across. Leaves not, or hardly sheathing at base; more or less erect, to 150 cm long and 15 mm wide; strongly V-shaped in section, green to slightly glaucous. Inflorescence distinctly exceeding the foliage with erect stems to 2 m high, with pale blue flowers; perianth segments slightly to strongly recurved; stamens to 9 mm long with filament rich yellow, shorter than the pale yellow anthers. Flowers between November and January. This species is distinguished from Dianella longifolia var. grandis and D. porracea by its (usually) tall inflorescence with flowers reportedly opening from early afternoon to late evening, later than the other spp. which collapses by mid-afternoon, and the narrow, strongly-channelled leaves. Fruits are round pale blue or sometimes nearly white berries to 10 mm long, containing numerous seeds. Seeds are shiny black ovoid seeds. Seed embryo type is linear fully developed.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between December and March. Pick the fruits that are soft and purple. These will have hard black seeds inside. It is best to clean the fruit when it is fresh. Place fruits in a bucket of water and rub the fruit gently by hand to dislodge the seeds. Then use a sieve to separate unwanted material. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. From one collection, the seed viability was low, at 10%. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA680 (3.51 g)1214-Dec-2007DJD1033
South Eastern
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.