Weed Profile: Glory lily
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- Declared in NSW under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 (Current Status)
Contacts and Further InformationIf you find this weed please help to prevent its further spread by contacting your local Council Weeds Officer or the nearest NSW Department of Primary Industries office for positive identification and further assistance.
Alternatively call the NSW Weeds Hotline on
1800 680 244 or send an email to email@example.com
Glory lily (Gloriosa superba)
Glory Lily, also known as Flame Lily, is poisonous to humans and stock
A native of Africa and Asia, glory lilies are grown commercially for a chemical compound, colchicine. In parts of India, they are considered threatened due to over-harvesting by the pharmaceutical trade.
They are widely-cultivated as garden plants around the world, including in Australia. Glory lily has subsequently become naturalised along parts of the Australian coast from north of Sydney to south-east Queensland.
All parts of the glory lily are highly-toxic if eaten and the weed has been responsible for the poisoning of both humans and livestock. The alkaloid present in the plant causes multiple physiological effects and can even cause death. The rhizomes are particularly toxic, even after cooking. In Australia, glory lily can form dense understorey carpets in dune systems along the coast, competing strongly with native flora.
Glory lily also compromises bitou bush (Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. rotundata) control programs because, once the bitou bush is removed, glory lily can form a dense understorey. Stem densities of at least 70 stems per square metre are not uncommon on removal of overstorey.
Glory lily is a perennial herb with climbing stems up to 4 m long.
- Leaves are shiny, green and hairless with 10–20 mm long tendrils at the tips which curl around supporting plants.
- Flowers are 45–70 mm wide, yellow, orange and red, borne singly on spreading stalks which arise in leaf forks. Flowers appear to be upside down with the petals pointing upwards, while 40–70 mm long stamens point downwards. Flowers grow from October–May. The seed pod is shaped like a rugby ball 40–100 mm long and 10–20 mm wide.
- Seeds are initially orange to red before drying to 4–5 mm diameter brown balls. Top growth diesoff in winter before re-shooting in the spring.
Glory lily produces large numbers of seeds and rhizomes. Unfortunately, one of the main methods of spread is by the dumping of garden refuse in bushland.
Dumping garden waste in bushland and allowing these garden plants to spread out of control in gardens close to natural bushland areas creates a major threat of further infestations. Effective management programs should aim at educating gardeners to use alternate species and also to safely dispose of garden refuse.
Author: Andrew Storrie, former weeds agronomist, NSW Agriculture