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Blackberry-lily

Blackberry-lily has unusual spotted flowers.

Bright orange star-shaped flowers with red speckles bloom in mid-summer on sword-shaped leaves.  After blooming, the plant forms pear-shaped seed pods that open to reveal shiny black seeds in the fall.  The pods are good for either winter interest in the garden or dried arrangements.  

Botanical name:

Belamcanda chinensis

All Common Names:

Blackberry-lily, leopard flower

Family (English):

Iris

Family (Botanic):

Iridaceae

Tree or Plant Type:

  • Perennial

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border

Size Range:

  • Large plant (more than 24 inches)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8,
  • Zone 9,
  • Zone 10

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil

Tolerances:

  • Occasional drought

Season of Interest:

  • Early winter,
  • Mid winter,
  • Mid summer,
  • Late summer,
  • Early fall,
  • Mid fall,
  • Late fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Orange

Shape or Form:

  • Upright

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

More Information:

Size

Blackberry-lily varies in height from two to four feet high depending on the soil.  Moist, rich soils will allow the flower stalks to reach full height while dryer soils will keep the plant shorter.  The width is about two feet.

 

Plant Care

Plant in full sun in well drained soil.  Blackberry-lily will not tolerate wet roots in the winter.
In zone 5, mulch the plant heavily for the winter.
Careful division should take place in the spring or you can allow the plant to reseed.  Blackberry-lily will bloom the second year when grown from seed.
If using the seedheads for dried arrangements, cut the plant before first frost.

Disease, pests, and problems

Iris borer can be a problem.  Removing dead leaves around the plant will reduce the amount of infestation. 
The plant reseeds heavily in moist soil but unwanted plants are easily removed. 
May require staking in fertile, moist soil.
Can be short-lived.

Native geographic location and habitat

China

Attracts birds or pollinators

Attracts butterflies.

Leaf description

 Leaves are ten inches tall and sword shaped, similar to those of iris or gladiolus.

Flower description

 The flat, star-shaped flowers are orange and spotted with red. 

Fruit description

Fruit is a capsule that splits open to reveal shiny black seeds that resemble a blackberry.

 

 

 

Location of Belamcanda chinensis (Blackberry-lily) at the Arboretum