Bush Lily

Astelia fragrans

(previously known as Astelia nervosa var. sylvestris and Funckia fragrans)

Bush Lily / Kakaha

ABOUT:
Māori used Bush Lily in weaving to provide a hue different to Pingao, Harakeke or Kiekie.
Used largely as an ornamental today, but uniquely combined with honey by one kiwi company for its dietary benefits.

IDENTIFY:     
1.5m x 1.5m. Stiffly arched green leaves, often with red midribs if exposed to direct sunlight. Leavea re M-shaped when cut-across, with a prominent raised vein on each leaf-half. The yellow-green small flowers of late spring are fragrant. Female plants bear corn kernel-like fruit popular with birds.

USE:
Leaves are deeper green in shade, and more yellow in full sun. An excellent filler for larger spaces, or as a higher non-abrasive groundcover that discourages pedestrians from cutting through gardens.

PLANT:
Performs best in light shade with a little moisture, but happy in dry shade or full sun. Becomes drought tolerant once established. Keep drier in humid areas. Requires very little maintenance. Tolerant of frosts and wind.

SIMILAR TO:     
Coastal Astelia (Astelia banksii) – leaves are long, 3-4.5cm wide, curled in on sides. Leaves remain arched but unbent.
Swamp Astelia (Astelia grandis) – broader leaves 4-12cm wide, arching but erect – not drooping. Prominent side-ribs, but not red.
Chatham Island Astelia (Astelia chathamica) – Leaves are broad, 4-10cm wide, upright and stiff, looking silvery because of white scales covering the leaves.
Mountain Astelia (Astelia nervosa) – Leaves are 2-4cm wide, arched and stiff, looking silvery because of white scales covering the leaves. Scales on some plants are ruffled.
Kowharawhara (Astelia solandri) – usually epiphytic. Flower bunches are on drooping stalks. Leaves are long, narrow, 2-3.5cm wide, dark and curled in on the sides.
Kauri Grass (Astelia trinervia) – up to 2.5m tall. Leaves are 2-4.5cm wide. Flowers in autumn/early winter.
Perching Lily (Collospermum hastatum) – usually epiphytic. Leaf bases are red-black, and fruit bunches drooping.

ECOLOGICAL IMPORTANCE:     
The reservoirs of water held in the leaf bases attract insects and subsequent lizards and birds to feed on the insects.

MORE INFO:
Encyclopedia of Life – Astelia fragrans
Taranaki Educational Resource – Astelia fragrans
Paperblog – Astelia fragrans

 

 

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