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Wurmbea dioica, Early Nancy

Wurmbea dioica, Early Nancy, is a member of the Colchicaceae family and is a small perennial herb with a corm, two or three annual leaves and a single flowering spike carrying one to eight flowers. Spikes may be up to 30 centimetres tall. Blooms have six petals. They are usually white and appear in spring. Early Nancy is mostly dioecious (male and female flowers on different plants). A small percentage of flowers may have both male and female parts. The fruit is a one centimetre long capsule that contains 10-50 seeds.

W. dioica tends to grow in wet areas and near swamps. After good rain the species will rapidly colonise a large area.

Early Nancy found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.

W. dioica was previously known as Anguillaria dioica.

The genus is named after C. C. F. von Wurmb (1742 – 1781) a German botanist. The species name come from the Greek and means “two houses” and refers to the male and female flowers.

In our cold climate garden, in northern NSW, W. dioica grows in a drain that feeds one of our dams in company with Ranunculus meristus (see Plant Profile).

This is one species that is difficult to maintain in cultivation so it is best admired in the bush.

Warren and Gloria Sheather

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Cremorne  Junction NSW 2090

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