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Products > Doryanthes palmeri
Doryanthes palmeri - Giant Spear Lily
Image of Doryanthes palmeri
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Doryanthaceae (~Agaveaceae)
Origin: Australia (Australasia)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Red
Bloomtime: Summer
Synonyms: [D. excelsa var. palnieri]
Height: 6-8 feet
Width: 4-6 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30° F
Doryanthes palmeri (Giant Spear Lily) - A large clumping plant with many 6 to 8 foot long sword-like, flexible green leaves. In summer appear the large (to 4 inches wide) crimson-red flowers that crown the top of 8 to 10 foot flower stalks that rising just above the foliage at a diagonal angle to the ground with 4 inch long egg-shaped fruit developed after flowering - flowers are attractive to bees, birds, and butterflies. This plant does its best in full sun but it will tolerate some shade, most any soil and, as lush as it looks, is quite drought tolerant, but will look best in a good deep soil with some irrigation. It is hardy to about 25 degrees F. A great plant for the garden or even as a container specimen in a large pot that requires very little maintenance to look good besides cutting off any browning senescing leaves and the spent flower spikes. Doryanthes palmeri has a restricted natural distribution in the McPherson Ranges of southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales. The name for the genus comes from a combination of the Greek words 'doratos' which means "a spear" and 'anthos' meaning "flower" in reference to the long spear shaped inflorescence of the closely related Doryanthes excelsa. It was given this name in 1802 by the Portuguese priest, statesman, philosopher and botanist José Francisco Correia de Serra (1750–1823), who was a close friend of Sir Joseph Banks. Walter Hill, the Colonial Botanist and Director of the Botanic Gardens at Brisbane discovered Doryanthes palmeri in 1860 but it was officially described in 1873 by the British botanist George Bentham. The name honors his countryman and fellow botanist Edward Palmer. Recent treatment places this plant in the Doryanthaceae although formerly it was considered to be in the Agave (Agavaceae) family. There are two species in the genus, Doryanthes palmeri and Doryanthes excelsa. The foliage of the two is similar, though D. palmeri a larger plant and in flower they are easy to tell apart with Doryanthes excelsa having a much taller flower stalk (to over 20 feet tall) that rises vertically out of the center of the plant and topped with a compact capitate head of flowers while the shorter flower stalk on D. palmeri is angled away from the center of the plant because of the weight of the flowers, which are spread out more along the inflorescence. Both species of Doryanthes generally take at least 10 years to mature and flower from seed though some plants have been reported to flower at half this age. 

This information about Doryanthes palmeri displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.