Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Proiphys amboinensis (L.) Herb.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Habit, leaves and flowers. © B. Gray
Fruit, many views. © W. T. Cooper
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage with 3 leaves, hypogeal germination. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage with 1 leaf, hypogeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Herbert, W. (1821) An Appendix : 42.

Common name

Cardwell Lily


Usually flowers and fruits as a herb but grows to 1 m or more. All plant parts arise from a subterranean bulb.


Leaves produced after flowering. Leaves basal, arising from an underground bulb. Leaf blades +/- orbicular, reniform or broadly ovate, about 20-30 x 15-35 cm, petioles about 15-60 cm long, +/- erect with a groove on one side.


Inflorescence basal, peduncle about 60-100 cm long. Umbel about 5-25-flowered. Pedicels about 3 cm long. Perianth tube about 3-3.5 cm long, lobes about 3.5 cm long. Staminal filaments free in the upper part but fused into a tube towards the base. Free staminal filaments about 20-25 mm long, anthers about 8-9 mm long. Style about 6.5 cm long, exceeding the stamens.


Fruits globose, about 15-30 mm diam., irregularly dehiscent. 'Seeds' consisting of concentric onion-like (Allium cepa) layers.


One or two cataphylls produced before the first true leaves. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves emerge from below ground level. Leaf blade orbicular or cordate, petiole long, much longer than the leaf blade. Bulb about 1.5-2 cm diam. or larger. Seed germination time 212 to 234 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in CYP, NEQ and CEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 800 m. Usually grows in wet sclerophyll or open forest but also found in monsoon forest and some of the drier rain forests. Also occurs in Malesia.

Natural History & Notes

This species forms large colonies in situations from coastal rain forest to vine thickets. An excellent bulb cultivated for the large ornamental leaves and the white flowers.

Eurycles amboinensis (L.) Lindley, Encycl. Pl. : 242(1829). Pancratium amboinensis L., Species Plantarum : 291(1753), Type: Illust. plant (ex Indonesia) grown in Amsterdam, Commelin, Hort. Med. Amstel. Pl. 1: 77, t. 39 (1697). Eurycles australasicus (Ker Gawl.) G.Don, Hort. Brit. : 117(1830).
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