May 28, 2017

Megaherb: Ross Lily

Bulbinella rossii - Ross Lily (the yellow flowers) | Credit: Wikimedia Commons – Author: Twiddleblat (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Bulbinella rossii – Ross Lily (the yellow flowers) | Credit: Wikimedia Commons – Author: Twiddleblat (CC BY-SA 2.0)

With straplike leaves and a cylindrical flower, Bulbinella rossii is an impressive lily. One of the endemic megaherbs of the subantarctic Campbell and Auckland islands of New Zealand, this perennial can reach up to a meter in height. It flowers from October to January in the Southern Hemisphere, with fruits appearing from December to March. Unlike some megaherbs, it is not a threatened species, although it is unusual because of its small area of distribution. It is called Ross Lily for James Clark Ross, a British Antarctic explorer who reached Campbell Island in December 1840. Ross may be best known for something often in the news these days: The Ross Ice Shelf is named after him, too. He discovered the shelf the month following his stop at Campbell Island. And if that wasn’t enough, it was Ross who first used the term “megaherb.”

For more: How We Found Out About Megaherbs