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Genus Dianella Family Asphodelaceae

Description: Rhizomatous perennial herbs; true aerial stems mostly very short, occasionally elongated, scaly or leafy; roots fibrous, fleshy-fibrous or tuberous.

Leaves with adaxial surfaces of upper sheath variously fused (occluded).

Inflorescence cymose; tepals subequal, spreading, blue, purple or white. Stamens with filaments glabrous, with a papillose swelling near apex; anthers dehiscing extrorsely by pores becoming slits.

Fruit a blue berry; seeds shining or rarely dull.

Photo J. & P. Edwards

Photo J. R. Hosking

Distribution and occurrence: World: 35-45 species, Africa, South-East Asia, Pacific to Hawaii, New Zealand. Australia: more than 25 species (at least 15 species endemic), all States. Besides the named species known to occur in NSW, there are at least 5 undescribed taxa. D. amoena may occur in SE NSW; it is known from Victoria and Tasmania.

For notes on how to collect a good herbarium specimen of this genus, see G. Carr (2007) in ASBS Newsletter 133: 30-35 (

Dianella is sometimes placed in the family Hemerocallidaceae.

Text by K. L. Wilson (1993); edited KL Wilson (June 2009, June 2022)
Taxon concept: Flora of NSW vol. 4 (1993); based on R. Henderson (1987) Flora of Australia vol. 45

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Dianella admixta,    Dianella brevicaulis,    Dianella intermedia,    Dianella porracea,    Dianella sp. Barrington Tops (J.R.Hosking 2859),    Dianella sp. Euston (W.E.Mulham 831),    Dianella sp. Mt Kosciuszko (J.H.Maiden s.n. NSW149268),    Dianella sp. Reservoir Hill (G.M.Cunningham 325),    Dianella tarda,    Dianella tenuissima

 Key to the species 
1Leaf sheaths more than half occluded2
Leaf sheaths less than half occluded or leaves less than 4 mm wide and therefore hard to see extent of occlusion9
2Veins on lower surface of leaf blade more or less touching (less than a vein breadth of surface visible between any two veins); veins regular, with minute papillae on top and/or sides of veins (except var. vinosa), occasionally papillae so dense as to mask the veins; anthers pale brown to black3
Veins on lower surface of leaf blade spaced out so that the distance between any 2 equal to or greater than the breadth of a vein (if more or less close together then veins are of irregular breadth and/or blade margins not revolute); no papillae on lower surface of blade; anthers yellow to yellow-brown or blue
                       Back to 1
3Inflorescence held amongst the foliage; leaves yellow-green; leaf sheaths not papillose; roots fleshy-fibrous; outer tepals 5.0–5.5 mm long; inner tepals 4.5–5.0 mm long; ovules 2 per loculusDianella brevipedunculata
Inflorescence mostly held above the foliage; leaves glaucous or grey-green; leaf sheaths usually papillose at least near base; roots fibrous; outer tepals 5.5–10 mm long; inner tepals 5.2–10.5 mm long; ovules 4–10 per loculus
                       Back to 2
Dianella revoluta
4Leaf sheaths open, more or less flattened with lower midvein strongly rounded and not much more prominent than several other veinsDianella nervosa
Leaf sheaths conduplicate, usually sharply keeled on lower surface
                       Back to 2
5Anther length less than or equal to filament swelling; fruit 12–25 mm long, longer than wide; prickles on leaf margins clearly visible to the naked eyeDianella tasmanica
Anther length greater than filament swelling; fruit 4–12 mm long, shorter than or as long as wide; leaf margins smooth or with mostly minute prickles
                       Back to 4
6Leaves glaucous or grey-green, strongly purplish red towards base7
Plants yellow-green or grey-green, glaucous in Dianella caerulea var. cinerascens, but not strongly reddish at base (occasionally red-tinged)
                       Back to 5
7Roots fibrous; seeds shining, 2.9–3.7 mm longDianella revoluta
Roots fleshy-fibrous; seeds more or less dull, 3.5–5 mm long
                       Back to 6
Dianella prunina
8Inflorescence exceeding foliage; leaf margins and midrib scabrous at least towards base of blade; in non-maritime habitatsDianella caerulea
Inflorescence amongst foliage; leaf margins and midrib smooth; in maritime habitats
                       Back to 6
Dianella congesta
9Leaf blades less than 4 mm wide10
Leaf blades more than 4 mm wide
                       Back to 1
10Leaves without prominent veins on lower surface, soft-texturedDianella rara
Leaves with several very prominent veins on lower surface, tough-textured
                       Back to 9
11Lateral veins more slender than midrib and often not very well-defined; roots tuberousDianella longifolia
Lateral veins as coarse as midrib; roots fleshy-fibrous
                       Back to 10
Dianella nervosa
12Roots fleshy-fibrous or tuberous; outer tepals 5–9-veined13
Roots fibrous; outer tepals 5–7-veined
                       Back to 9
Dianella caerulea
13Pedicels more or less rounded; outer tepals 5-veinedDianella longifolia
Pedicels narrowly but sharply ridged; outer tepals 5–9-veined
                       Back to 12
Dianella crinoides

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