Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Taiwan Lily (or Formosa Lily) has spread relatively rapidly through coastal eastern Australia.
  • It has large, attractive, white trumpet-shaped flowers that are often purplish on the outside.
  • It is often found growing on roadsides in slashed or disturbed vegetation.
  • It can spread by bulbs and/or seed and the latter may be wind dispersed.
  • Plants can grow from seed to flower in as little as six months.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Taiwan Lily (Lilium formosanum) is a perennial herb with an upright unbranched stem to that grows to 1 (rarely to 2) m high. The stems die down annually. The subterranean bulbs multiply by budding off, eventually giving rise to colonies of plants. The smooth, hairless, linear leaves are up to 15 cm long and 1 cm wide and grow quite densely around the stem from the base to the top of the plant.

The one to several sweetly scented trumpet-shaped flowers are white, usually streaked purplish on the outside, up to 12 cm long and nearly as wide. There are six equal 'petals' surrounding the six stamens. These are nearly as long as the flower itself, each tipped by a pink or purple (opening to become yellow) anther, and a slightly longer, green or whitish central style and stigma.

The narrow capsules (fruit) are 5-8 cm long and are held erect even after opening. Each capsule contains hundreds of small winged seeds (Conran 1994).

For further information and assistance with identification of Taiwan Lily contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour

White, Purple

Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Most occurrences of Taiwan Lily are in woodland and forest from near sea level to over 900 m altitude. Soils may be deep sands, gravelly loams, or more fertile loams derived from basalt. On the mainland it appears to be largely confined to roadsides where the natural vegetation has been cleared or slashed, but it has spread through undisturbed forest on Lord Howe Island (Friends of Lord Howe Island 2006; National Herbarium of New South Wales 2008; National Herbarium of Victoria 2008; Queensland Herbarium 2008).

Are there similar species?

Other commonly or occasionally cultivated white 'trumpet-flowered' Lilium species could be mistaken for Taiwan Lily; for example, L. longiflorum (Easter Lily), L. regale and L. x testaceum (Nankeen Lily). Lilium longiflorum can be distinguished by its pure white flowers. Lilium regale has a spotted, hairy stem and flowers that are flushed yellow inside toward the base. L. x testaceum is a hybrid of garden origin and has flowers tending to be bowl-shaped rather than trumpet-shaped. Lilium lancifolium (Tiger Lily) is also commonly cultivated, but has flowers that are orange or reddish, spotted purple, with petals that are rolled back (Spencer 2005; AVH 2008).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Native ecosystems: On the Australian mainland, the plant has colonised bushland, reserves, parks and road verges but, from information accompanying herbarium specimens, most infestations appear to be along slashed or cleared roadsides (National Herbarium of New South Wales 2008; National Herbarium of Victoria 2008; Queensland Herbarium 2008). On Lord Howe Island, it has invaded intact native vegetation, particularly in more open forests (Friends of Lord Howe Island 2006). It is regarded it as being a potential threat to one or more vegetation formations in Victoria, having invaded damp sclerophyll forest (Carr et al. 1992).

How does it spread?

The numerous winged seeds of Taiwan Lily are likely to be wind dispersed to some degree (Friends of Lord Howe Island 2006). However, its abundance along roadsides strongly suggests that at least some dispersal is through road working machinery or materials. It is likely that the plant has spread through the inadvertent (or deliberate) transfer of seeds between sites as well as by escapes from gardens (either by seed or dumping of garden refuse) (Walsh 2008 pers. comm.).

What is its history in Australia?

Taiwan Lily has been grown for many years as a garden plant in Australia. The first report of it from non-cultivated populations appears to be from Lord Howe Island in 1962 (National Herbarium of Victoria 2008). It was collected from the north coast of New South Wales in 1963, and by 1968 it was established on the south coast near Batemans Bay (National Herbarium of New South Wales). It has subsequently spread throughout coastal New South Wales, southeast Queensland, where it was first noted in the late 1980s (Hewson 1987; Stanley & Ross 1989) and to Victoria where it was first recorded in 1984 (National Herbarium of Victoria 2008).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Non-chemical control: Manual control: Small infestations can be controlled by digging out the roots and bulbs, but these may be quite deep (to 25 cm) in the soil and care must be taken to ensure that the numerous bulb scales are removed to prevent resprouting in following seasons (Burke's Backyard 2008).

Chemical control: Herbicides can also be used to control this species (Burke's Backyard 2008; Envirotalk 2005). Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au 

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Although Taiwan Lily is perennial, during the winter it dies back to an underground bulb the size of which varies with the age of the individual. On Lord Howe Island, above ground growth begins in July and plants produce a single shoot between then and mid-summer. Around January this shoot produces multiple flowers and each of these gives rise to a large capsule containing many hundreds of tiny seeds (Friends of Lord Howe Island 2006). Grown from seed, plants can reach flowering in 6-9 months (Burke's Backyard 2008). Seed germinates in spring (Plants For A Future 2004).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Taiwan Lily occurs from near Nambour, south-eastern Queensland, more or less continuously along the coastal side of the Dividing Range to just east of Melbourne (AVH 2008).

Where does it originate?

Taiwan Lily is native to Taiwan and nearby islands (Conran 1994).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Lilium formosanum

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Tiger Lily, Formosan Lily

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