Mexican Tuberose ‘Azucena’ (Polianthes tuberosa)

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Mexican Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) Aka Polyanthus Lily, Azucena, Nardo, Tuberose, Flor de Muerto, and Vara de San José, is native to Mexico, and it’s a perennial plant related to the Agaves (subfamily Agavoideae). It’s with the family of Asparagaceae, genus Polianthes, which means “many flowers” in Greek. ‘Tuberose’ comes from Latin, meaning ‘swollen tube’ or bulb. I’ve already posted two flowers in the family of Asparagaceae, the Asparagus Fern and The Snake Plant.

600px IMG_6855 copyIn Puerto Rico this flower is extremely popular, and it’s sold in the streets as ‘Azucena’. It grows in elongated spikes up to 45 cm (18 in) long that produce clusters of fragrant waxy white flowers. Many people buy them for $1 a spike. In Latin America, it is a flower that was often associated with the deceased, hence one of its folkloric names ‘Flor de Muerto’. Also, there seems to be a popular belief that the flower brings good fortune and purifies surroundings in people’s homes.

800px 2 IMG_6855 copy“The plants thrive in full sun, in climates where the temperature does not normally dip below 20°F/-7°C. Tubers can be left in the ground year round.”- These plants propagate by rhizomatous bulbs or “tubers”. The fragrance gets more intense, as you add more spikes. Five to six spikes in a vase can keep a 18 x 16 feet bedroom extremely fragrant and perfumed. What you see here is one spike. There are some varieties in cultivation. This is the ‘Mexican Single’, but there is also a ‘Double Type’ and ‘Peal Type’ cultivar which has more petals.-( Nevertheless, the ‘Mexican Tuberose Single Type’ is said to be the most fragrant.



A volatile oil is produced from its bulbous roots and is used in perfumery and incense. (Image U.S. Public Domain)


25 thoughts on “Mexican Tuberose ‘Azucena’ (Polianthes tuberosa)

  1. I LOVE tuberoses! I remember buying them from a street vender in Peru and bringing them back to my room. They cheered me up so! Whenever I see them at the florist, which is rare, I buy them.


  2. I swear I can smell them, mmmmmmm mmmm mmm! So wonderful, Maria, so beautiful! I’m particularly in love with your beautiful sharp images with that incredible black background. Is this done in the studio, or you have some way to do this outside? I have no experience at all with my camera beyond point and shoot, but I’d like to learn more! ♥♥♥ ; ^)


    • Thanks so much Aisha, yes definitely in a studio set-up, no Photoshopping. Most often than not I shoot out in the wild but sometimes I’m interested in details and feel the need to control the light and background, so I photograph flowers as “still life”. Some don’t like this style because sometimes the flower has been cut or is in a pot and doesn’t look like nature intended. Yet, since I consider myself a self-taught gardener and like to study flowers, I don’t take heed of this.


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