Glory lily (Gloriosa superba)

Glory lily is a climbing or scrambling plant with distinctive red, orange and yellow flowers. It is poisonous and outcompetes other plants especially in coastal dune areas.

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How does this weed affect you?

Glory lily is a garden plant that has escaped and invaded coastal areas. It:

  • is very toxic to people and animals
  • forms dense carpets in coastal dune areas outcompeting native plants.

Poisoning

All parts of the glory lily are poisonous as they contain two types of toxins (colcihcine and gloriocine alkaloids). The plants are still poisonous if dried or cooked.

Human poisoning

In humans, symptoms include:

  • tingling and numbness on lips, tongue and throat
  • burning mouth and difficulty swallowing
  • nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain
  • diarrhoea and blood in faeces
  • low blood pressure and body temperature
  • convulsions, paralysis and death from respiratory paralysis.

Touching the tubers can cause numbness and tingling of the skin. 

What to do if a person is poisoned:
  • If the patient is unconscious, unresponsive or having difficulty breathing dial 000 or get to the emergency section of a hospital immediately.
  • If the patient is conscious and responsive call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 or your doctor.
  • If going to a hospital take a piece of the plant for identification.

Animal poisoning

Dogs are known to have died from digging up and chewing on the tubers. It is likely that all mammals may be susceptible to poisoning.

What does it look like?

Glory lily is a perennial herb with climbing stems up to 4 m long. It has tendrils on the leaf tips that clasp onto other plants and structures helping the plant climb. Glory lily can form dense infestations in full sun, producing up to 70 stems per square metres. It dies back each winter and reshoots in spring. Glory lily forms tubers and fleshy rhizomes (creeping underground stems). New plants that grow from tubers can flower within 9 weeks.

Leaves are:

  • 6–20 cm long and 1.5–4 cm wide
  • spear shaped with tendrils at the tip 10–20 mm long
  • shiny and hairless with many parallel veins
  • stalkless
  • 45–75 mm wide
  • solitary, on stalks 4–20 cm long which grow out from the leaf forks
  • present from October to May.

Flowers are:

The flowers have 6 prominent stamens that are below the petals. The stamens are 30–70 mm long with bright yellow or orange anthers on the tips.

There are 6 petals which:

  • are 50–80 mm long
  • are yellow and orange or red
  • have wavy edges
  • curve inwards towards the tip.

Fruit are:

  • a green capsule ripening to dark brown or black
  • 4–10 cm long and 1–2 cm in diameter
  • split into 3 segments when ripe.

Seeds are:

  • orange-reddish when young, brown when mature
  • round
  • 4–5 mm in diameter
  • hard when ripe.

Where is it found?

Glory lily grows along the NSW coast from north of Sydney to south-east Queensland. It has been grown as a garden plant.

It is native to Africa and Asia.

What type of environment does it grow in?

Glory lily mainly grows in coastal sand dunes, coastal lowland areas, coastal scrub and littoral rainforest. Infestations often increase greatly after bitou bush (Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. rotundata) has been controlled in coastal areas.

Maps and records

  • Recorded presence of Glory lily during property inspections (Map: Biosecurity Information System - Weeds, 2017-2021)
    These records are made by authorised officers during property inspections under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Officers record the presence of priority weeds in their council area and provide this to the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Records reflect the presence of the weed on the date of inspection.

  • Estimated distribution of Glory lily in NSW (Map: NSW Noxious Weed Local Control Authorities, 2010)
    Map shows weed distribution and density estimated by local council weeds officers in 2010.

How does it spread?

By seed

Each plant can produce over 1000 seeds. The seeds remain in the soil over winter and germinate in spring. Seeds may be spread by birds.

By plant parts

Glory lily grows from tubers and rhizome fragments. People dumping garden waste is the main way that plants have spread to new areas.

References

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. (2011). Weeds in Australia. Gloriosa superba. Australian Government. https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/biodiversity/invasive/weeds/weeddetails.pl?taxon_id=15615 Retrieved 5/3/2020.

PlantNET (The NSW Plant Information Network System) (2020). Gloriosa superba L.. NSW Flora Online. Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney. http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Gloriosa~superba Retrieved 5/3/2020.

Muruganandam, C., & Mohideen, M. K. (2007). Effect of tuber size on growth, flowering and yield of glory lily (Gloriosa superba L.). Plant Archives, 7(1), 187-189.

Phatak, R. S., Hegde, L., Narayanpur, V., & Hegde, N. K. (2016). Effect of nutrient doses on growth, seed yield and tuber yield of glory lily (Gloriosa superba L.). Research in Environment and Life Sciences, 9(5), 634-636.

More information

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Control

Successful weed control relies on follow up after the initial efforts. This means looking for and killing regrowth or new seedlings. Using a combination of control methods is usually more successful. Wear protective clothing and avoid skin contact with plants.

Prevention

Be very careful not to move seeds or underground stems (rhizomes) into clean areas. Clean tools and clothing if working on fruiting plants to avoid spreading this weed into new areas.

Safely dispose of plants.

Physical removal

By hand

Small seedlings can be dug out.

Chemical control

Glory lily usually requires follow-up herbicide treatments to kill the plants.

Spot spraying

Apply to all foliage to the point of visible wetness.

Cut stem/stem scraping method

Cut stems and apply herbicide to the stem within 15 seconds of cutting.

To stem scrape, remove a thin layer of the outer stem for 15 to 30 cm all the way around. Apply herbicide within 15 seconds of cutting.

Herbicide options

WARNING - ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website www.apvma.gov.au

See Using herbicides for more information.


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 1 part glyphosate to 50 parts water
Comments: Knapsack application
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 1 part glyphosate to 1.5 parts of water
Comments: Cut stump/ scrape stem application.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


PERMIT 9907 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L with Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Various products)
Rate: 200 mL glyphosate plus 1.5 g metsulfuron-methyl per 10 L of water
Comments: Knapsack application
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate


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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Greater Sydney Regional Recommended Measure*
The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment. Notify local control authority if found.
Hunter
Exclusion zone: whole region except core infestation area of the MidCoast, Port Stephens, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie local government areas
Regional Recommended Measure*
Whole region: The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment. Notify local control authority if found. Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. Exclusion zone: The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. Core infestation area: Land managers should mitigate spread from their land.
North Coast
Exclusion zone: whole region excluding the core infestation area of Kempsey Shire Council, Richmond Valley Council, Ballina Shire Council, Bellingen Shire Council, Clarence Valley Council, Coffs Harbour City Council, Lismore Council, Kyogle Council, Byron Shire Council and Tweed Shire Council.
Regional Recommended Measure*
Whole region: The plant or parts of the plant should not be traded, carried, grown or released into the environment. Exclusion zone: The plant should be eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. Core infestation area: Land managers should reduce impacts from the plant on priority assets.
*To see the Regional Strategic Weeds Management Plans containing demonstrated outcomes that fulfil the general biosecurity duty for this weed click here

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244 or send an email to weeds@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Reviewed 2021