Belamcanda chinensis (L.) Redouté

Blackberry Lily

Belamcanda chinensis plant

Family - Iridaceae

Habit - Perennial forb with stout, orange-yellow rhizomes.

Leaves - Mostly basal in 2-ranked clusters, to 40 cm long and 22 mm wide, linear, folded at base. Leaves on aerial stems alternate, reduced.

Belamcanda_chinensis_leavesBasal leaves.

Belamcanda_chinensis_leafAerial leaf.

Inflorescence - Few-flowered cymose panicles. Flowers with small subtending bracts.


Flower - Trimerous, actinomorphic, perfect, on stalks 15-19 mm long. Perianth 20-32 mm long, spreading, orange with darker red spots, the sepals and petals similar and fused at the bases. Stamens 3. Styles 3-lobed. Ovary inferior, with 3 locules.



Belamcanda_chinensis_flower2Stamens and style.

Fruit - Capsules 25-30 mm long, obovoid, tapering to the base, the walls withering after dehiscence to expose the blackberry-like mass of globose, shiny, black seeds.

Belamcanda_chinensis_fruitImmature fruit.

Belamcanda_chinensis_fruit2Mature fruits.

Flowering - July - August.

Habitat - Old homesteads, edges of bluffs and glades, dry brushy areas.

Origin - Native to eastern Asia.

Lookalikes - None.

Other info. - This strikingly beautiful species is found scattered across most of Missouri, often marking the vicinity of vanished homesteads or otherwise persisting from former cultivation. Although exotic it rarely behaves aggressively. The flowers remain open only a single day. As the fruits mature, the ovary walls wither and reflex, exposing the mass of shiny black seeds. The clusters resemble blackberries (hence the common name) but should not be eaten.

Some authors have place this species within the genus Iris, in which case the full name of the plant would be Iris domestica (L.) Goldblatt & Mabb. Several other names have also been used.

Photographs taken at Shaw Nature Reserve, Franklin County, MO, 9-4-2011 and 7-11-2015, and at Washington State Park, Washington County, MO, 7-14-2017 (SRTurner).