Ferraria crispa (Starfish Lily)

Scientific Name

Ferraria crispa Burm.

Common Names

Black Flag, Starfish Lily, Sea Spider Iris


Ferraria obtusifolia, Ferraria undulata

Scientific Classification

Family: Iridaceae
Subfamily: Iridoideae
Tribe: Irideae
Genus: Ferraria


Color: Brown and pale yellow
Bloom Time: Late spring to early summer


Ferraria crispa is a small perennial with remarkable velvety-textured flowers with intricately frilled and crisped margins on their 3 long and 3 short petals. The flowers are also strongly marked and mottled in brown and pale yellow shades and, unfortunately, have an unpleasant scent. The flowers are up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, produced in late spring to early summer on 2 to 3 stems per corm, and are only open in fine weather.

Ferraria crispa - Starfish Lily

How to Grow and Care

Ferrarias are easy bulbs to grow. These plants prefer to be located in the sun or semi-shade in loamy, well-drained soil just beneath the surface (1-2 inches/2.5-5 cm). Plants in too much shade will fail to bloom and will eventually die out. The rarer species are generally best grown in pots or containers.

The care of Ferraria corms don't require too much either. Once their spring flowering has been completed, the foliage will slowly begin to fade, and the Ferraria flowers go dormant in summer. During this time, all watering should be limited.

Bring any container-grown plants indoors for overwintering and provide a generous amount of mulch for winter protection to those growing outdoors.

Established Ferraria plants will produce large clumps each year. These can be easily divided in the spring when overcrowding becomes a problem or if additional plants are desired elsewhere in the garden. See more at How to Grow and Care for Ferraria.


Native to South Africa.


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