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Waimea’s ‘Flower of Love’ – The Agapanthus

April 7, 2011

The Agapanthus is commonly known as the “Blue Lily,” the “African Lily” or “Lily of the Nile”

Agapanthus – The Flower of Love?

The beautiful blue flower pictured above is growing by the sidewalk on the grounds of Kamuela’s North Hawaii Community Hospital. A few days ago, I asked someone who knows about these things what kind of flower it is and was informed that it is an Agapanthus, a perennial that seems to thrive in the climate of upcountry Waimea.

According to one website, because the flower’s name comes from two Greek words:  ἀγάπη (agape – which means “love”) and ἄνθος (anthos – which means “flower”), the Agapanthus is sometimes called “the flower of love.” Other common names for the Agapanthus are Lily of the Nile, African Lily and Blue Lily (even though it is not really a lily, it is not native to the area around the Nile, and it can range in color from white to blue to indigo).

To the Source – On a Walk in Africa

Bee on Agapanthus

A bee on the Agapanthus above

While searching for information about the region where the flower is endemic (southern Africa), I came across a blog called “Walk in Africa” that has this great photo of an Agapanthus africanus growing in a rock fissure on Table Mountain.

The blog also has a post with photos of other flowers growing on the mountain. Big Islanders will recognize the Protea and there are a few varieties of orchids featured as well (very familiar to those of us who call the Orchid Isle home).

After discovering the “Walk in Africa” blog, I’ve added hiking Table Mountain and taking a photo of an Agapanthus in its native habitat to the list of things I’d love to do… someday. In the meantime, I’ll continue to admire the Agapanthus flowers growing around Waimea when I’m out for my run.

Learn More

If botany, plant morphology or vocabulary is your thing, you may already know what an Agapanthus umbel is. If umbel is an unfamiliar term, here’s a definition from

Spider Lily

A Spider Lily’s umbel

Umbel: Flat or rounded indeterminate inflorescence in which the individual flower stalks (called pedicels) arise from about the same point on the stem at the tip of the peduncle. The geranium, milkweed, and onion have umbels. Umbels usually show centripetal inflorescence, with the lower or outer flowers blooming first.

(Translation: the flower looks like an umbrella.)


You might enjoy scanning Agapanthus: A Revision of the Genus (start on page 37).

Spider Lily photo courtesy Claudia Meyer

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