Black Anther Flax Lily (Dianella revoluta or D. brevicaulis).

A cluster of Black Anther Flax-Lilies
A cluster of Black Anther Flax-Lilies

Common name: Black Anther Flax Lily, Spreading Flax Lily, Blueberry Lily

Taxonomic name: Dianella revoluta or Dianella brevicaulis

Family: Asphodelaceae

Habitat: Mallee, sclerophyll woodlands

Form: Clumping grass like

Flowering Time: Spring to Summer

Ngarrindjeri name: Peeintuk

Description and uses:

Dianella revoluta and Dianella brevicaulis, commonly known as ‘Black Anther Flax-lily’ and ‘Coast Flax-lily’, respectively, are two plants that are of great use as bushfood and medicine. There’s also D. longifolia but that’s less common.

Dianella revoluta has wide, strap like leaves up to waist high and the flowers come to about 90 cm above that. On D. brevicaulis, the leaves are about 50 cm tall and the flowers are clustered down amongst them. In the pictures you can see the contrasting black anthers that give the plant its name. The beautiful purple, yellow and black flowers can be seen from August to January.

Dianella revoluta, showing black anthers
Dianella revoluta, showing the black anthers from which it gets its name.

The blue/black, ripe, berries of both are delicious and abundant in summer. In D. brevicaulus, they nestle down amongst the leaves. On D. revoluta, they stand on the flower stems above the leaves.

The white piece at the bottom of the leaves tastes a little like nuts and has a strong antiviral property. When we’re out bush, we are constantly chewing on both it and the berries to keep our immunity up and colds away. The roots are edible after a good cleaning. The berries and rhizomes have similar properties.

The base of a Dianella leaf
The base of the leaves is nutritious and has an anti-microbial action.

The rhizomes and roots were traditionally pounded and cooked on hot stones and the berries, when purple are sweet. The seeds can be eaten too, having a nutty taste.

Traditionally, the leaves were split lengthwise, then rolled to make string.

A clump of Dianella leaves.
Leaves form quite dense clumps.

Leaves and flowers of Dianella revoluta.
Leaves and flowers of Dianella revoluta.

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