Libertia

Libertia is an evergreen rhizomatous genus in the Iridaceae family of about 12 species found in Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Chile, and the Andes from Bolivia through Colombia. It was named after Anne-Marie Libert, Belgian botanist. The genus is well represented only in New Zealand and Chile. Plants have simple, linear or narrowly lanceolate basal leaves with a prominent central vein and except for one species short lived white flowers that are radially symmetric and held upright. This genus is distinguished by filaments united in the lower half or third and a short style with slender branches extended between the filaments. Outer tepals are slightly to much smaller than the inner. This genus is in the Sisyrinchieae tribe. It is most closely allied to Orthrosanthus.


Libertia chilensis (Molina) Gunckel, syn Libertia formosa Graham, is a species from Chile with fan like bluish-green leaves and white flowers with spreading segments. The inner segments are obovate and the outer small, oblong, greenish brown. According to Chileflora this species grows in water or has its roots within a permanent water source so should not be keep dry for a long period of time. This may explain why it did not thrive in Mary Sue Ittner's garden, but below is a photo taken the year she planted it out (and before the summer dry period in her California garden.)

Libertia chilensis, Mary Sue Ittner

Libertia grandiflora is native to New Zealand. It has long leathery iris like leaves and umbels of white flowers on stiff stems. It is surviving in my garden with little summer water, but probably would be happy with more. It blooms in spring. Photos by Mary Sue Ittner.

Libertia grandiflora, Mary Sue IttnerLibertia grandiflora, Mary Sue IttnerLibertia grandiflora, Mary Sue IttnerLibertia grandiflora, Mary Sue IttnerLibertia grandiflora, Mary Sue Ittner

Libertia sessiliflora (Poepp.) Skottsb., syn. Libertia caerulescens Kunth & Bouché, is native to Chile where it grows in coastal areas from 0 to 500 m. It has green, upright, linear leaves. It is the only species that does not have white flowers with small pale blue flowers and also is an exception in that the flowers face to the side instead of upright and are borne on short pedicels. This species has an oblong capsule. The other South American species have globose capsules and long pedicels with flowers held well above the stem. Photos from Bob Rutemoeller and Mary Sue Ittner who were surprised to find it blooming many years after planting it out. It had been blooming for awhile judging from the seed pods already formed before they spotted it.

Libertia sessiliflora, Bob RutemoellerLibertia sessiliflora, Bob RutemoellerLibertia sessiliflora, Bob RutemoellerLibertia sessiliflora, Mary Sue IttnerLibertia sessiliflora, Mary Sue Ittner

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Page last modified on April 25, 2015, at 09:36 AM