Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Astelia Fragrans

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Astelia fragrans (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Astelia fragrans (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Partial shade

Flowering period: Spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 1m

Eventual Spread: 1m

Hardiness: 8b -10a

Family: Asteliaceae

Astelia fragrans is an evergreen, clump forming herbaceous perennial. Its mid green leaves (silver on the underside) are strap shaped, arching, up to 1.5m long and 8cm broad. Its fragrant green flowers appear in panicles at the center of the plant. Its yellow/ orange fruit are up to 9mm across and produced in the summer months.

Astelia fragrans, commonly known as the Bush Lilly, Bush Flax, Tufted Lilly or Kakaha, is native to New Zealand. In its native habitat it grows in scrub and woodlands.

The etymological root of the binomial name Astelia is derived from the Greek a meaning ‘without’ and stele meaning ‘shaft’. Fragrans is derived from the Latin fragrantia meaning ‘perfume’, in reference to its fragrant flowers.

The landscape architect may find Astelia fragrans useful as an evergreen perennial which tolerated dry shady conditions, including understory planting schemes within woodlands. Once established this perennial is drought tolerant.

Ecologically, Astelia fragrans fruit are attractive to birds.

Astelia fragrans Leaf (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Astelia fragrans Leaf (18/11/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Astelia fragrans prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil. It will tolerate dry soils.

Astelia fragrans requires little maintenance.

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