Blackberry Lily

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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Blackberry Lily
Blackberry Lily

Common Name: Blackberry Lily[1]

Scientific Name: Belamcanda chinesis

Description: Hardy, herbaceous summer-flowering perennial; Robust plant with red-spotted orange flowers on stalks, followed by unusual seed heads that resemble blackberries, but the seeds are not edible

Size: Grows 2 to 3 feet tall and spreads slowly

Cultural Information: Prefers full sun or light shade and well-drained, moderately rich garden loam

USDA Zones: 5 through 9

Historical Notes: This Asian perennial, which Thomas Jefferson called "Chinese Ixia," is actually a member of the Iris family. Jefferson first received seed from nurseryman Bernard McMahon in 1807, during his second term as President of the United States.[2] These were sown in an East Front oval flowerbed at Monticello.[3] Today the blackberry lilies that are found naturalized throughout Monticello are believed to be descendants of Jefferson’s original plantings and our plants are propagated from seed collected at Monticello.


  1. This article is based on Peggy Cornett, CHP Information Sheet.
  2. Betts, Garden Book, 337.
  3. Ibid, 335.

Further Sources