What Does It Look Like?
What is it?
Agapanthus (A. praecox subsp. orientalis, A. praecox subsp. praecox and A. praecox subsp. minimus ) is an erect perennial evergreen herb with a stout underground rhizome (underground rooting stem), with stem-like flowering stems to about 1.2 – 1.5 metres tall, forming large clumps over time. The leaves that arise from the root, ; clustered at base of stem-like flowering stem. Leaves are strap-like, glossy dark green, 400-800 mm long, 30–50 mm wide. Leaves when broken exude a gelatinous substance.
It has blue purple or white flowers are held at the top of robust, hollow, erect smooth stem in umbels (large dense heads of spherical clusters ) each containing 20-40 flowers, 100–200 mm in diameter. Each flower is on an individual flower stalk (pedicels) 50-80 mm long. Flowers are funnel-shaped, to about 40 mm long, fused into a tube (15-20 mm long) at the base, with 6 tepals (petals). Most flowering occurs from November to February but flowers can be seen at other times of the year as well.
The fruit is leathery green three-sided capsules about 25–50 mm long which dries to pale brown splitting open, containing 20-100 black seeds that have a wing-like projection.
Recognition: This species can normally be recognised by the combination of the following characters; thick underground rhizomes that produce new plants, evergreen herb with strap-like shiny glossy leaves too 800 m long and 50 mm wide; Flowers 20-40 in spherical clusters that are large trumpet -like flowers to 80 mm long, normally blue or purple or white; produces a 3 sided capsule green at first drying pale brown splitting open, with black winged seeds.
Dwarf forms are sold, which are identical to the typical form, but smaller (Eurobodalla Shire Council undated). For further information and assistance with identification of Agapanthus contact the herbarium in your state or territory.
Blue, Purple or White.
Growth form (weed type/habit)
Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat
Sunny situations are preferred, but Agapanthus will invade forest edges and open forest. It tolerates a wide range of conditions from damp to very dry (Eurobodalla Shire Council undated; Shire of Yarra Ranges undated). It is known to form dense monocultures in temperate areas in South Australia under native and introduced tree species.
Are there similar species?
Agapanthus can be confused with the native ground cover, Commelina or Scurvy Weed (Commelina cyanea). Commelina can be identified by its blue flowers and thick, fleshy roots. Nerine Lilies, another garden plant, are similar in form, but much less robust.
The native tussock plant Spiny Mat-rush (Lomandra longifolia) could possibly be mistaken for Agapanthus if neither plant was in flower, or carrying the remains of flowers. It has similar bright green strap-like leaves, but they are less fleshy than those of Agapanthus, and each leaf typically has a squared tip with 1-3 small teeth (Eurobodalla Shire Council undated; Pittwater Council undated).