Polianthes tuberosa L.


Family: Asparagaceae

Genus: Polianthes

Category: Bulb

Zones: 7 to 10

Size: To 3' tall, 2.5' wide

Exposure: Sun


Basal foliage is grass-like, forming a clump. White flowers on spikes, fragrant, funnel-shaped in summer. Good cut flowers.


Published in Sp. Pl. 1: 316 in 1753.

Also published in Bot. Reg. 1: 63 in 1815.

From Bot. Reg. Clusius was in possession of this plant in 1594, and is, we believe, the first writer who mentions it. The precise date of its appearance in Europe has, however, never been fixed, and le country it is natural to, is still a question. The Hortus Kewensis makes it indigenous of the East Indies; Mr. R. A. Salisbury, who has devoted an elaborate treatise to the plant, of Mexico. As far as we have searched, the latter opinion alone seems to be supported by any thing like direct evidence. No writer we have turned to even hints at an authority for its having been found wild in any part of the East Indies... But in the history of the plants of Mexico, compiled from observations made on the spot by Hernandez, the plant is said in precise words "to be produced in the temperate and cool districts (of Mexico), and to be a kind of Narcissus, not known in the old world."Here we can hardly avoid inferring, from the first part of the sentence, that it is meant to be recorded as indigenous... Father Camell, again... tells us unequivocally that the plant had been imported by the Spaniards from Mexico, by whom it was called Vara de S. Jose, Saint Joseph's wand, and that it was known by the name of the Mexican Asphodel. The Flora peruviana, on the other hand, enumerates it merely as a garden-plant in Peru...

The double variety is known to have been raised from seed by a Mois'r. de la Cour, at Leyden, about 60 or 70 years ago. Cultivated in England by Parkinson in 1629.

My Experience: 

I purchased 3 bulbs from Eden's Blooms in April 2013 and planted them in the Cutting Garden raised bed.

Sources of Information

© 2010-12 Lisa J. Miner