The Blueberry Flax Lily is December's plant of the month.
Blueberry Flax Lily
The Dianella sp has strappy leaves and beautiful blue flowers followed by almost iridescent cerulean blue berries. They are a commonly planted species in gardens and landscaping and provide a rigorous, hardy ground cover that can outcompete weeds and are very popular in schools, parks and roadside plantings. Whilst they have many foods, fibre and medicinal uses, they are infamous for being employed as snake whistles. Indigenous groups would give the stalks to their children and encourage them to whistle to warn off snakes.
Dianella sp. are distributed throughout sclerophyll forests, woodland and mallee regions in southwest Western Australia and other Australian states, except for the Northern Territory.
Plants are tufted perennial, rhizomatous herbs with fibrous or fleshy roots, more or less linear leaves with their bases overlapping, bisexual flowers with three sepals similar to three blue, purple or white petals and a superior ovary, and has fruit like a berry.
In spring and summer, small and unique looking flowers sit at the tips of wiry stems above the tufted foliage. Their six blue-lilac petals curl backward, while yellow and brown filaments and anthers spray the other way — a sight to behold, with each flower lasting only a day. After flowering their berries can last for weeks on the stem.
Fruits may be enjoyed fresh or cooked in sweet or savoury dishes, while the plant root can be pounded and roasted for eating. Blueberry Lily was traditionally used as a tea ingredient in Aboriginal medicine — both root and leaf were used to remedy colds and headaches, respectively.
A word of caution: not every Dianella species produces berries that are safe for human consumption.
Where to see Tree Broom-Heath in Centennial Parklands
Growing on the Guriwal Trail and near Willow Pond.