The (Un) Common Fringe Lily

Common Fringe Lilies (thysonatus tuberosus) are flowering now at the edges of Pilyara’s shady messmate gullies. Their botanical name tuberosus comes from their edible root. These lilies should be given a new everyday name though, as there is nothing common about them. They are wildflowers of exquisite charm.


Fringe Lilies grow on low stalks, that bear a few slender, basal leaves. The flowers appear at the end of short branchlets. Each purple petal is edged with a delicate, feathery fringe, highlighting the bloom with a halo effect. In between each petal is a sepal of deeper mauve, like a narrow satin ribbon. Their perfection is ephemeral – each flower lasts just one day. So lovely, yet so fleeting. The plant itself flowers for several weeks though, so there is plenty of time to catch the beauty of a new bloom. 



This watercolour painting of a Fringe Lily is part of the Ducie Collection of First Fleet Art. The artist’s name is George Raper. He was a naval officer and talented illustrator. Unfortunately he was only twenty eight years old when he died. (1769-1797) The image is courtesy of The National Library of Australia. It proves this lovely little lily was one of the very first native flowers to attract international acclaim. How fortunate am I to be able to see them flowering in the wild, just metres from my house!