Lord Howe Wedding Lily – Dietes robinsoniana

The flowers of Dietes robinsoniana are a pure white with yellow markings towards the centre

The impressive flowers of Dietes robinsoniana. Photo Ian Innes © Sydney Living Museums

Now flowering at The Mint this little-known species of Dietes is endemic to Lord Howe Island. It features large white flowers and is the tallest of the Dietes genus.

It was introduced to mainland Australia in 1869 by Charles Moore, director of the Sydney Botanic Garden who collected it on Lord Howe Island during a long South Pacific scientific expedition. Moore also collected and introduced the two endemic Lord Howe Island palms, Howea forsteriana and Howea belmoreana.

Although short lived, the flowers on Dietes robinsoniana are spectacular. A sequence of large pure white flowers with yellow markings (nectar guides) toward the centre are produced on a candelabra-like inflorescence that can produce 5-10 flowers; each flower may only stay open for one day.

This is by far my favourite species of Dietes for use in the garden as it does not spread as rapidly as Dietes grandiflora and can reach 1m-2m high.

At The Mint it has been planted in Gardenseque-style as an accent plant in rings around Viburnum tinus where it has been doing well. It seems to prefer full sun as it does not do so well under the shade of the Viburnum. In the wild it grows in large swathes on rocky headlands close to the shore in full sun.

This species may be hard to find as I recall it being a bit of a challenge to find for The Mint, but definitely worth the effort.

the inflorescence of dietes robinsoniana in The Mint garden

The infloresence branches several times near the top and each tip will produce two flowers.

Photo Steven Halliday © Sydney Living Museums

the flower of dietes robinsoniana opening in the morning sunshine

Early morning sunshine hits the opening flower bud.

Photo Steven Halliday © Sydney Living Museums

the front garden at the mint contains Dietes robinsoniana surrounding the Viburnum tinus

Here you can see the Dietes robinsoniana situated in the front garden at The Mint. The wedding lily surrounds the Viburnum tinus. The only pest I have so far noted for this species is that it has recently been hit by scale, hence the yellow patching.

Photo Steven Halliday © Sydney Living Museums

About the author

Photograph of a man standing beside a garden shed

Steve Halliday

Horticulturist

Steven is one of the horticulturists who takes care of Sydney Living Museums’ green spaces and gardens.