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Kerry Lily

Simethis mattiazzei

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asphodelaceae (Asphodel)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Cliffs, gardens, heathland, seaside.

White, 6 petals
White petals, tinged pale purple underneath. 6 stamens. Yellow anthers. The flowers are in loose clusters and are each about 2cm in diameter.
The fruit is a 3-lobed capsule.
Linear, greyish-green, grass-like leaves which are sometimes curled.
Other Names:
Irish Lily, Killarney Fern, Mattiazzi's Simethis.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Simethis mattiazzi is a plant species in the Lamiaceae family. It is a perennial herbaceous plant, which is commonly known as Mattiazzi's simethis. This plant is native to the Mediterranean region, and it is considered to be a rare and threatened species. It can be found on rocky or stony slopes and on limestone cliffs, growing in full sun. The flowers of this plant are blue-purple and are arranged in spikes. The leaves are also lanceolate, and they are dark green in color. This plant is not widely cultivated, but it is grown by some botanical gardens and specialist plant growers.


The Kerry Lily, also known as the Irish Lily or the Killarney Fern, is a rare and beautiful plant native to Ireland. This striking plant is a member of the lily family and is characterized by its long, narrow leaves that are arranged in a distinctive spiral pattern. The Kerry Lily is a protected species in Ireland and is considered to be one of the most important plants in the country's natural heritage.

The Kerry Lily is named after the county of Kerry in southwestern Ireland, where it is primarily found. It grows in wet, acidic soils in areas with high rainfall, such as boglands and wet meadows. The plant can also be found in other parts of Ireland, as well as in a few other countries, such as Scotland and Iceland.

The Kerry Lily is an evergreen plant that typically grows to a height of 30-60 cm (12-24 inches). It produces tall, upright stems that are topped with clusters of delicate, star-shaped flowers. The flowers range in color from pale pink to deep rose, and they bloom from May to August.

The Kerry Lily is a slow-growing plant that can take up to seven years to reach maturity. It is also a long-lived plant, with some individuals living for over 50 years. Because of its slow growth and long lifespan, the Kerry Lily is highly susceptible to habitat loss and other threats, such as overgrazing, drainage, and peat cutting.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect the Kerry Lily and its habitat. In Ireland, the plant is listed as a protected species under the Wildlife Acts and the Flora (Protection) Order. In addition, several conservation organizations, such as the Irish Peatland Conservation Council, are working to restore and protect the plant's habitat.

The Kerry Lily is not only important for its ecological and cultural value but also for its potential medicinal properties. The plant has been used for centuries in traditional Irish medicine to treat a range of ailments, including fever, rheumatism, and asthma. Recent research has also shown that extracts from the Kerry Lily may have antimicrobial and anticancer properties.

The Kerry Lily is a rare and beautiful plant that is an important part of Ireland's natural heritage. Its unique spiral arrangement of leaves and delicate flowers make it a striking addition to any garden, while its potential medicinal properties make it a valuable resource for scientific research. However, the Kerry Lily is also highly threatened, and it is essential that we take steps to protect this precious plant and its habitat.

The Kerry Lily has been an important symbol of Irish culture for centuries. It is often associated with the legend of Saint Patrick, who is said to have used the plant to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to the Irish people. The three leaves of the Kerry Lily were said to represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, while the single stem symbolized the unity of the Trinity.

The Kerry Lily has also been used in traditional Irish folk medicine for generations. It was believed to have a range of healing properties, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antiseptic effects. The plant was often used to treat wounds, burns, and other injuries, as well as respiratory conditions, such as asthma and bronchitis.

Today, the Kerry Lily is a popular ornamental plant in gardens and parks around the world. Its attractive foliage and delicate flowers make it a favorite among gardeners, while its historical and cultural significance continue to capture the imagination of people everywhere.

Despite its protected status and ongoing conservation efforts, the Kerry Lily remains a threatened species. Loss of habitat, climate change, and invasive species are all major threats to the survival of this iconic plant.

The Kerry Lily is also an important indicator species for the health of peatlands, which are wetland ecosystems that store large amounts of carbon and support a diverse range of plant and animal species. Peatlands are among the most threatened ecosystems in the world, with over 80% of peatlands in Ireland and other parts of Europe having been lost or degraded due to human activities.

The Kerry Lily is a key species in these peatland ecosystems, playing a vital role in maintaining their ecological integrity and functioning. The plant's deep root system helps to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion, while its leaves and stems provide habitat and food for a variety of insects and other small animals.

Protecting the Kerry Lily and its habitat is not only important for the survival of this iconic plant but also for the health and wellbeing of peatlands and the ecosystem services they provide. These include carbon sequestration, water regulation, and biodiversity conservation, all of which are essential for human wellbeing and sustainable development.

In addition to its ecological and cultural significance, the Kerry Lily also has potential economic value. The plant's unique foliage and delicate flowers have made it a popular ornamental plant for use in floral arrangements and landscaping. The Kerry Lily could therefore represent a valuable source of income for local communities in areas where it is found, such as the county of Kerry.

In conclusion, the Kerry Lily is a rare and beautiful plant that plays a vital role in Ireland's natural heritage and the health of peatland ecosystems. Protecting the Kerry Lily and its habitat is essential for maintaining the ecological integrity and functioning of these ecosystems, as well as for ensuring the cultural and economic value of this iconic plant for future generations. It is up to all of us to work together to conserve and protect this precious species and the habitats it depends on.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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