Project Background

The Kerry Lily, Simethis planifolia is a beautiful, diminutive white flowered member of the lily family (Asphodelaceae), and is listed under the Flora Protection Order, 1999. In Ireland, it is only known from three locations, occurring in the Derrynane and Lamb’s Head regions of South-West Kerry and Dereenacush in West Cork. Simethis planifolia is found throughout Southern Europe in Spain, Portugal and extending northwards to France and eastwards to western Italy. In Britain it was formerly recorded near Bournemouth in Dorset, but became extinct around 1925.



Very little is known about the Irish populations of S. planifolia, its detailed distribution has never been mapped and most records for the species where made pre 1940. The project aims to provide a conservation assessment for this species in Ireland by undertaking the following research: an associated vegetation survey, population census, an examination of seed production and population genetic diversity analyses.

The species will be introduced into cultivation for the first time in Ireland. Plants will be grown at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin and will be used to conduct future research. The living collection at NBG Glasnevin will be used to promote public awareness of issues relating to the conservation of rare Irish plants.

Project Aims

  1. Assess the conservation status of the Kerry Lily based on a population census, vegetation/habitat description and genetic diversity.
  2. To collect plant material to be maintained at the National Botanic Gardens (NBG) living collection for future research and education purposes.
  3. To disseminate the information through publications and through public displays at the NBG and to promote current issues relating to the conservation of Ireland’s natural heritage.
  4. The project also aims to increase the capacity of plant research by employing and supervising a student to undertake some of the work.

Project Staff and Partners

The project is being managed by Dr Darach Lupton of the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland. The project is funded by the Heritage Council and the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland.