Female flowers (ssp. dioica). Photo: Don Wood, ACT

Male flowers (ssp. dioica). Photo: Don Wood, ACT

Male and female plants (ssp. dioica). Australian Plant Image Index, photo: Murray Fagg, ACT

Common Name

Early Nancy




Perennial forb to 35cm tall. Leaves alternating up the stem, sometimes the lower 2 (of 3) at the base of the plant, with a sheath at the base. Leaves 10-35cm long, 0.2-10mm wide, threadlike or linear to flat, hairless, tapering to a long threadlike point. Male and female flowers often on separate plants, or male, female, and bisexual flowers on the one plant. Flowers sweetly scented, with 6 'petals', creamy white with a purple band or a purple centre, or greenish or yellowish with a purple or greenish band. Flowers in 'racemes' of 1-11 flowers at the tops of the flowering stems. Family Liliaceae in SA.

The above description is of Wurmbea dioica ssp. dioica. Wurmbea dioica ssp. brevifolia is occasionally seen. Its female flowers are often tinged pink, and its upper leaf (of 3) is 1-2cm long, and as broad, without a long threadlike tip.

Description and photo of Wurmbea dioica (as Anguillaria dioica) in G.M. Cunningham, WE Mulham, PL Milthorpe and J H Leigh (1981 and later printings) Plants of Western New South Wales page 181

PlantNET description (of Wurmbea dioica ssp. dioica):

Description of Wurmbea dioica ssp. brevifolia in Bayles, J. (2007) A review of South Australian Wurmbea (Colchicaceae-Liliaceae): keys, new taxa and combinations, and notes. Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens 21: 77-79, fig. 2