Bulbinella rossii


Bulbinella: little bulb
rossii: Named for William Ross, a botanical collector; or Capt. James Ross, leader of an arctic expedition; or others named Ross, depending on genus

Common Name(s)

Ross Lily

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Range Restricted


2012 - RR


Bulbinella rossii (Hook.f.) Cheeseman



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Monocotyledonous Herbs


Chrysobactron rossii Hook.f.; Anthericum rossii (Hook.f.) Hook.f.


Endemic. Auckland and Campbell Islands


Widespread and common from sea level to the tops of island ranges. Flourishes in disturbed sites, and so common near old habitations and because it is not especially palatable, where browsing animals congregate. prefers open herbfield and tussock grassland, where it may form dense colonies.


Dioecious, stout, perennial lily up to 1 m tall and 40 mm diameter at the base. Leaves fleshy, 0.6-1m x 15-60 mm wide, dark green, obtuse to subacute, apices recurved, nerves faint to prominent, easily felt when fresh. Peduncle up to 10 mm diameter, usually < leaf length. Inflorescence a cylindric raceme up to 150 x 600 mm; bracts and pedicels of almost equal length in female flowers and conspicuous in bud; in males < pedicels and inconspicuous in bud; pedicels 10-20 mm long, swollen just below flower. Flowers numerous, densely crowded, 10-14 mm diameter, golden yellow to sulphur yellow, often faintly tinged with orange; tepals oblong-ovate, spreading in males in females erect and remaining so, usually hardening as fruit ripens. Stamens < tepals; anthers in males conspicuously filled with pollen, in females rudimentary. Ovary 2 mm long, broad right to base. Capsule 10 mm long, broadly ovoid, gynophore absent. Seeds 4-6 mm long, dark brown to black, narrowly winged.

Similar Taxa

None. This is the only species of Bulbinella Kunth present on the subantarctic islands. Bulbinella rossii is perhaps closest to B. gibbsii Cockayne, from which it differs by its greater stature, leaves up to 60 mm wide, cylindric rather than conical racemes held on a stout rather than slender axis which is obscured by the densely crowded flowers and fruits rather than more or less visible. Bulbinella rossii has a distinctly capitate rather than scarcely capitate stigma.


October - January

Flower Colours



December - March

Propagation Technique

Difficult - should not be removed from the wild. It has been cultivated with limited success in the more southerly parts of New Zealand.


Not Threatened. Listed only because with respect to the rest of the New Zealand archipelago it occupies a small geographic area

Chromosome No.

2n = 14

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Winged seeds are dispersed by wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).


Description modified by Peter de Lange from Moore and Edgar (1970)

References and further reading

Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Government Printer, Wellington. 354pp.

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 2009 Vol. 11 No. 4 pp. 285-309

This page last updated on 25 May 2014