Information on Kerry Lily

Common Name: Kerry Lily
Scientific Name: Simethis mattiazzii
Irish Name: Lile Fhíonáin
Family Group: Liliaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Kerry Lily is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.


The windswept slopes of an island off the south-west coast of Ireland are home to this beautiful little perennial wildflower which is well named as the Kerry Lily. A bulbous plant, it stays fairly close to the ground only reaching about 25cm, its leaves are basal, narrow and grass-like, often curled and up to 30cm long.  However it is the flower (20mm across) which is quite amazing.  Each has 6 white petals, purple-grey beneath, and hairy filaments. The flower appears to sparkle with little grains of light scattered over the surface of the petals and the fuzzily hairy stamens are crowned by golden anthers. It blooms in May and June, is a native plant, only growing in Co Kerry (with a small foothold in west Cork) and it belongs to the family Liliaceae.  

This is one of the first rare wildflowers in my records. It was in 1978, in Kerry of course, that I came across it on a holiday with my husband Pete, and our children.  At that time I was without a camera.  However I promised I would get back, some day, to find it again and photograph it and, sure enough, that day came in June 2008 when our daughter, Petra, and her husband, Mike, found it in almost the same spot as in 1978 and took me to it.  That was when the photographs were taken.   

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Lily, Kerry
Lily, Kerry

In 2005, road works were being carried out on the Sneem to Castlecove road in Co Kerry when the Kerry Lily was discovered to be growing at the side of the road. As it is a rare and a protected species*, the decision was made to halt the road works temporarily and 2 metre screens were constructed to protect the plant from road spray and any other disturbance.    

*This is a protected species under the Flora (Protection) Order, 1999.