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Belamcanda chinensis Blackberry Lily1

Edward F. Gilman 2


A beautiful, upright grass-like herbaceous perennial related to the irises, blackberry lily has strap-like leaves to 18 inches long borne on short, upright stems no more than about 2 feet long (Fig. 1). Throughout the warm months, bright orange-yellow flowers are produced at the top of the canopy and fill the landscape with warm color. Individual flowers last a day or two but new ones come out the next day during the bloom period. Fruit pods split and curl, revealing clusters of black seeds, hence the common name. Plants die back in the winter months only to emerge again in the spring.

Figure 1. Blackberry lily.
Figure 1.  Blackberry lily.

General Information

Scientific name: Belamcanda chinensis
Pronunciation: bel-am-KAN-duh chin-NEN-sis
Common name(s): blackberry lily, leopard flower
Family: Iridaceae
Plant type: perennial; bulb/tuber
USDA hardiness zones: 5 through 10A (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 7: year round
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: foundation; cut flowers; mass planting
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 1 to 2 feet
Spread: 2 to 4 feet
Plant habit: upright
Plant density: dense
Growth rate: fast
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: linear
Leaf venation: parallel
Leaf type and persistence: not applicable
Leaf blade length: 12 to 18 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: yellow
Flower characteristic: summer flowering; spring flowering; fall flowering


Fruit shape: pod or pod-like
Fruit length: unknown
Fruit cover: dry or hard
Fruit color: black
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable
Current year stem/twig color: not applicable
Current year stem/twig thickness: not applicable


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: sand; acidic; slightly alkaline; loam; clay
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerances: unknown
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Blackberry lily makes an outstanding addition to any landscape. It makes a nice accent plant in a shrub border, and can stand alone in a low, ground-hugging ground cover. Plant it along a walk or in a mass near an entry way to attract attention. A large number of blackberry lilies massed in a landscape bed can make a dramatic impact on a landscape design.

Although flower production in best in full sun, one outstanding feature of the plant is its ability to produce abundant flowers in partial shade. Space adjacent plants about 3 feet apart to form a dense grouping. Several light fertilizations during the year will help growth and flowering.

A hybrid, x Pardancanda, usually called candy lily or leopard lily, has yellow, purple, rose, or white flowers.

Pests and Diseases

Crown rot can kill plants if the soil remains too wet. Scorch causes the upper parts of leaves to brown and wither in the summer in the full sun without adequate soil moisture supply.


1. This document is FPS64, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #FPS64

Date: 5/4/2015

      Organism ID


      • Gail Hansen de Chapman