Christmas Bells

Blandfordia grandiflora

Christmas Bells, Blandfordia grandiflora. New South Wales, Australia
Photo Credit: CC John Tann via Flickr Creative Commons

Christmas Bells ring out for Christmas Day in the Southern Hemisphere long before they do in the Northern Hemisphere. Day 22 of this Advent Botany blog switches to Australia for the appropriately named Christmas Bells. Read on for the strong University of Reading connection in the Northern Hemisphere.

Blandfordiaceae

The family Blandfordiaceae and the genus Blandfordia were named after George Spencer-Churchill, the fifth Duke of Marlborough and Marquis of Blandord (1766-1840). He was a noted collector. His plant collections and botanical interests connect him to the University of Reading. The Whiteknights campus was the original site for his mansion and botanical garden, before debts forced him to sell and move to the family seat at Blenheim Palace.


Christmas Bells, Blandfordia grandiflora. New South Wales, Australia
Photo Credit: CC John Tann via Flickr

Blandfordia

The genus Blandfordia contains just 4 species with photographs in this blog, for which we are indebted to photographer John Tann of Sydney, Australia in particular:

  • Blandfordia grandiflora, Christmas Bells
  • Blandfordia nobilis, Christmas Bells
  • Blandfordia punicea, Tasmanian Christmas Bells
  • Blandfordia cunninghamii, Mountain Christmas Bells

Blandfordiaceae Distribution Map

Distribution Map of Blanfordiaceae. Note limited area in Eastern Australia and Tasmania
Attribution: Wlodzimierz [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Christmas Bells have a restricted distribution to Eastern Australian and Tasmania. They could be found in greenhouses in Britain during the 18th Century. They are called Christmas Bells because these summer flowers bloom at Christmas time in the Southern Hemisphere. Below, you can see the rough type of terrain in which this beautiful Christmas flower grows.

The New South Wales terrain in which Christmas Bells, Blandfordia grandiflora grows
Photo Credit: CC John Tann from Sydney, Australia via Wikimedia Commons

Blandfordia grandiflora has a grass-like, linear leaf with a prominent mid-vein and rough margin (as shown below).

Christmas Bells, Blandfordia grandiflora, has a leaf with a rough margin
Photo Credit: CC John Tann from Sydney, Australia via Wikimedia Commons

The plant has a distinctive seed pod. According to Kew’s Plants of the World (2017), it splits into three.

Christmas Bells with seed pod, Blandfordia grandiflora. New South Wales, Australia
Photo Credit: CC John Tann via Flickr Creative Commons
Christmas Bells with seed pods, Blandfordia grandiflora. New South Wales, Australia
Photo Credit: CC John Tann via Flickr Creative Commons

Other Christmas Bells

Tasmanian Christmas Bells

Tasmanian Christmas Bells, Blandfordia punicea. Tasmania, Australia.
Photo Credit: CC Ollie487 via Wikimedia Commons

Blandfordia punicea is known as Tasmanian Christmas Bells. It is an eye-catching plant that rises above its surrounding vegetation. Its tufted appearance with rush-like leaves made it an attractive plant even when not in flower. It featured on Australian stamps in 2007.

Distribution: It is native to Western Tasmania in Australia. It needs some shade and good drainage to grow well.

(Source: Australian National Botanic Gardens/Australian National Herbarium)

Christmas Bells, Blandfordia nobilis

Christmas Bells, Blandfordia nobilis. New South Wales, Australia
Photo Credit: CC John Tann via Flickr Creative Commons

Blandfordia nobilis is also called Christmas Bells. It flowers late in the Australian spring to summer. The inflorescence is loosely racemose with 3 to 20 flowers.

Distribution: Grows in sloping sandstone country and swampy areas in coastal districts. Mainly found from Sydney to Milton and inland to Braidwood, New South Wales, Australia.

(Source: PlantNet: New South Wales’ Flora Online)

Mountain Christmas Bells

Mountain Christmas Bells, Blandfordia cunninghamii. Blue Mountains in Australia.
Photo Credit: CC Ibsut aka Ian Sutton via Wikimedia Commons

Blandfordia cunninghamii, is generally known as Mountain Christmas Bells.

Distribution: It grows in damp shallow sandy and peaty soils. It is often to located on sandstone cliff edges and is mainly found in the Blue Mountains and Illawarra areas.

Variation: Species variations resemble Blandfordia grandiflora in the more northern parts of its distribution. This species may hybridise. 

(Source: PlantNet, New South Wales’ Flora Online).

Copyright Note 

© Karen Netto (Andrews)

These pages illustrate my love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. I love sharing. This blog is a showcase for my own photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics.

© Karen Netto (Andrews) 2018 onwards. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Netto (Andrews) and karencommunications.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

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