Blackberry Lilys

Blackberry Lily

Two species of perennials make up this genus, found in E Asia. Belamcanda chinensis is an unusual plant for the border, somewhere between an iris and a lily in appearance, with fans of iris-like leaves, colorful flowers, and three-chambered fruits that are a feature in autumn when they split open to reveal the jet-black fruits. Its common names, blackberry lily or leopard lily, refer respectively to the glossy black fruits and the spotted flowers that last only a day. Widely used in traditional Chinese medicine, Belamcanda chinensis was first mentioned in the Shen Nong Canon of Herbs (CE25-220). It is valued in S China as a treatment for "rice field dermatitis", a fungal skin infection common among paddyfield workers.

Perennial with short rhizomes and a fan of gray-green, sword-shaped leaves, to 50cm (20in) long. Orange-red, dark-spotted flowers are borne in summer, followed by capsules containing shiny, round, black fruits.

Common Name:
Blackberry Lily
Other Names:
Leopard lily
Botanical Name:
Belamcanda chinensis
Native Location:
E Asia, as far north as the Ussari region of E Siberia
Well-drained, moist, sandy, rich soil in sun or partial shade. It may reseed in favorable sites.
By seed sown in spring; it takes about 15 days to germinate.
Rhizomes are lifted in summer and autumn, and dried for use in decoctions.
Hello Yellow
Has unspotted yellow flowers.
60cm-1.2m (2-4ft)
15-25cm (6-10in)
Parts Used:
Rhizomes (she gan)
A bitter, cooling herb that acts mainly on the lungs and liver, lowering fever and reducing inflammation. It is effective against a number of bacterial, fungal, and viral organisms.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for throat infections and for coughs characterized by profuse phlegm. Not given to pregnant women.
Encyclopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright © 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited Pg 141