Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Umbrella Dracaena
Dianella ensifolia

Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae
Genus: Dianella (dy-an-NEL-uh) (Info)
Species: ensifolia (en-see-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

One member has or wants this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

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1 positive
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive natureguyfrog On Aug 23, 2010, natureguyfrog from San Diego, CA wrote:

First I would disagree completely with the photos displayed for this plant. It is far too often that plants sold in the nursery trade are given names that either are incomplete or completely wrong. The plants pictured are usually sold as Dianella tasmanica variegata. (I have my doubts about this name also.) To my knowledge there are two variegated forms out at this time. One has the white variegation as in these pictures and the other has vivid yellow variegation. Both grow in the same phormium-like manner as Dianella tasmanica. (Phomium is the common New Zealand Flax). There are distinct differences in the flowers and also they seem to be more tightly clumping with less of a tendancy to spread than D. tasmanica type form. They have leaves that are not near as tough or tall as tasmanica.

By googeling Dianella ensifolia you will find some pics displayed. The two that I looked at from were exactly correct!

There is a reason that this plant species was described as "ensifolia" that means that it has banana-like leaves or at least has a banana-like arrangement of the leaves! Very much unlike the D. tasmanica and the assumed variegated forms of D. tas. the D. ensifolia will send up rather quickly assending shoots much like a bamboo. They may rise a couple of feet or more before the fan of leaves opens out! Under ideal conditions and more like bamboos than bananas these stems will also produce short branches. From these relatively small fans of short leaves (compared to D. tas. and variants) come very delicate sprays of flowers followed by intense purplish berries that are much smaller and lack the blue luster of D. tas. So far it has been my experience that D. ensifolia produces leaves that are a small fraction of the length of D. tasmanica even if the overall height is 2 or 3 times greater!

My first experience with D. ensifolia was at UCRiverside Botanic Gardens. There was one plant not far from the entrance that was nearly 6 feet tall and nearly as wide reminding me of a type of bamboo palm. The stems were vertical with no bends but many short branches having small fans of leaves. The plant was growing in the open under very large trees with very high canopies. It looked like it was getting very little water...which may explain why there were no flowers and berries.

I absolutely love this plant for a shady retreat! It has the graceful form that fits well under much taller plants...perhaps by a trickling stream and pond. The flowers are not very showy but displayed in delicate arching sprays. The berries are a remarkable shade of intense violet! It is an accent plant that creates a sense of simplicity.

To add even greater value to this plant... I understand that there is an extract when put into the form of a lotion may be applied to the skin to remove discolorations of the skin.

I appologize for such a lengthy discussion but the discussion must start somewhere!


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

San Diego, California
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Gainesville, Florida

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