Dianella tasmanica (Tasman Flax Lily) - A beautiful strap-leafed perennial with clumps to 30 inches tall bearing fans of rich green leaves that are finely serrated along the leaf margins. This plant spreads by rhizomes and in the right situation can rapidly colonize a planter bed. It has rich blue flowers with prominent, brown-tipped golden anthers in the spring that are followed by slightly oblong attractive deep metallic-blue berries in mid-summer.
It grows rapidly in coastal full sun with regular irrigation but is more useful (and contained) in part sun with only occasional to infrequent irrigation and in these shady locations can go prolonged periods unirrigated. It is hardy to short duration temperatures down to about 20° F. This plant is sometimes thought of as invasive but this is typically in a well or over irrigated garden and it is extremely useful in dry shade where it imparts a somewhat tropical look. Its foliage, flowers and berries can all be used in flower arrangements.
Dianella tasmanica was first collected in Tasmania in 1837 where it generally grows in moist wooded forests but it is also found along the coast of New South Wales. It was described by the English botanist Joseph Hooker in 1858. The genus is named after Diana, the Roman goddess, of hunting and Queen of the woods and the specific epithet references the first collection of this plant in Tasmania. This plant also has the common name Flax Lily and Blue Berry Flax Lily. These common names come from the durable leaves that can be woven for basketry and other purposes.
Though some claim the fruit is edible and tastes somewhat like grapes, it is listed elsewhere as poisonous - the listing in Poisonous Plants of California by Thomas Fuller and Elizabeth McClintock (UC Press, 1986) notes that there have been no reported poisonings involving Dianella in California but "in Australia and New Zealand this and other species of Dianella have been suspected of poisoning livestock and humans, but reports are circumstantial and inconclusive." For this reason we do not recommend eating the berries of this plant. We have grown this great plant since 1986.
Information about Dianella tasmanica displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.