Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Blandfordia grandiflora R.Br.

Frost-tender rhizomatous perennial with linear leaves and loose racemes of red or red and yellow flowers in early summer.  To 60cm.  [RHSE, Hortus, FNSW].

Horticultural & Botanical History

Species of Blandfordia are somewhat variable and overlap in their range and intermediate varieties, probably hybrids are known.  This is undoubtedly the explanation for the profusion of names in the early botanical literature.  ‘Plants under the names of Blandfordia nobilis and B. grandiflora have long been known in our gardens, and both of them figured in botanical works.  B. nobilis (of which the figure in Smith’s ‘Exotic Botany’ is the acknowledged type) is given at our Tab. 2003 by Dr. Sims; but B. grandifora, given by Mr. Gawler in Bot. Reg. t.924, we feel sure is not the plant of Mr. Brown, as indeed is intimated by a passage in the text.  We fear it is only B. nobilis with the peduncles less developed than usual.  The true B. grandiflora, with long peduncles and longer and very slender membranaceous bracts, is that published by Dr. Lindley, Bot. Reg. 1845, t.18, under the name of B. marginata, Herb.  It is a native of Van Diemen’s Land, where Mr. Gunn finds it abundantly and at various elevations from the level of the sea to 4000 feet of elevation.’  [BM t.4819/1854].  The plant described here, once considered a varity of Blandfordia grandiflora, is now correctly named Blandfordia punicea (Labill.) Sweet, synonym Blandfordia marginata Herb., a species widely distributed in Tasmania.  Macarthur had good contacts in Van Diemen’s Land, receiving a number of plants from there, and it is possible that his ‘Blandfordia grandiflora’ is this plant. 

More likely, however, is a plant that could be collected more locally and is now known as Blandfordia grandiflora R.Br.  This is a variable species, as the number of synonyms attests: ‘[Blandfordia flammea var. princeps is] Botanically not more than a variety of B. flammea, Bot. Mag., tab. 4819, from which it differs by its larger flowers, with the tube of the perianth narrowed gradually from the throat to the base, and passing so gradually into the pedicel that it is difficult to see, without cutting it open, where one stops and the other begins, and by its included pistil.  For horticultural purposes it is a much finer plant, the bright crimson of the tube and pedicel forming a very effective contrast with the bright yellow of the segments; so that, size of flower and colouring both taken into account, it may safely be said to be for decorative purposes the finest of the known Blandfordias.  It was introduced by Mr. William Bull from New South Wales, about 1873, and was exhibited by him at South Kensington in the summer of 1875.’  [BM t.6209/1876].  Blandfordia grandiflora was also figured as Blandfordia flammea Lindl. in BM t.4819/1854

Introduced to Britain in 1812.  [JD].  FC p.304/1859.  MB p.219/1840.  MB p.16/1849.  FS f.585/1850.  BR Misc. p.84/1842

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1850 and 1857 catalogues [B.49/1850].  Blandfordia grandiflora occurs north from the Hawkesbury River and east of the Great Dividing Range.  Philip Parker King and Edward Bowman lived in this area and William Macarthur and John Bidwill visited on a number of occasions.  The Macarthurs had also aquired the Bowman’s property of Ravensworth in the Hunter Valley by this date. Blandfordia grandiflora was probably collected on one of these visits.


Blandfordia grandiflora Lindl. (1825) = Blandfordia nobilis Sm. which see.

Published Jan 03, 2010 - 04:55 PM | Last updated Jul 15, 2010 - 02:04 PM

Shown are linear leaves and pendant raceme of red and yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.6209, 1876.

Blandfordia grandiflora R.Br. | BM t.6209/1876 as Blandfordia flammea var. princeps | BHL

Family Blandfordiaceae
Region of origin

Eastern Australia, NSW and south east Queensland

  • Blandfordia grandiflora var. marginata (Herb.) Hook.f.
  • Blandfordia flammea Lindl.
  • Blandfordia flammea var. aurea F.M.Bailey
  • Blandfordia flammea var. princeps Baker
  • Blandfordia princeps W.G.Sm.
  • Blandfordia aurea Hook.f.
  • Blandfordia cunninghamii var. splendens W.Bull
Common Name

Christmas bells

Name in the Camden Park Record

Blandfordia grandiflora  

Confidence level medium