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What is Paradisea?

By Kim Masters Evans
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Paradisea is a genus of flowering plants native to the meadows of southern and western Europe. The genus contains two species — Paradisea liliastrum, which is commonly called St. Bruno’s lily, and Paradisea lusitanicum, which is commonly called paradise lily. Both species feature spiky green leaves and tall stalks that develop delicate white flowers during the late spring and early summer.

The plants are rhizomatous, meaning they grow from rhizomes. Rhizomes are creeping stems that typically lie underground and sprout roots that grow downwards and shoots that grow upwards. Each plant develops a tall central stem surrounded by a circular clump of slender grass-like leaves. The leaves are green or grayish green in color and have a fleshy texture. Like most flowering plants the Paradisea develop tiny dry fruit capsules that contain seeds.

Flowers develop along the tall main stems of the plants, and each flower is attached to the main stem by a short stalk called a pedicel. The flowers form and bloom from the bottom of the stem upward toward its growing tip. The flowering stems grow to a height of 1-5 feet (0.3-1.5 meters) and can have as many as ten flowers each.

The flowers of a Paradisea plant are small and bright white — almost transparent — and contain six petals each. The petals may open fully and spread out, giving the flowers a star-like shape. When the petals are only partially open, the flowers appear like trumpets or bells.

St. Bruno’s lily, or Paradisea liliastrum, is the better known of the two Paradisea species. It is native to the grassy meadows of the southern Alps, a mountain range in south-central Europe. Paradise lily, or Paradisea lusitanicum, is native to Portugal. This species differs from its sister by featuring smaller flowers and yellow-colored tips on its white petals. It also has jointed pedicels, while St. Bruno’s lily has unjointed pedicels.

Both species can be grown in full sun or partial shade, but they perform best in moist and rich organic soils. Their flowers bloom from late spring to early summer, roughly May to June in the northern hemisphere. These perennial plants are frost-tender, and the above-ground vegetation shrivels and dies upon exposure to frost. The underground rhizomes lie dormant through the winter but resprout when warm weather returns. The plants can be spread by dividing the rhizomes during the early part of the dormant period or by planting seeds harvested from the fruit capsules.

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