Pseuderanthemum variabile

love flower


Pseuderanthemum variabile

(R.Br.) Radlk. 1884

pronounced: soo-der-RANTH-ee-mum vair-ee-AH-bill-ee

(Acanthaceae — the black-eyed Susan family)


common names: love flower, pastel flower

native 4Pseuderanthemum means ‘false Eranthemum’, from the Greek ψευδο– (pseudo), false, εραννος (erannos), lovely, and ανθος (anthos), a flower; variabile is from the Latin variabilis, variable, referring to the variation in flower colour.

This delightful little flower is an Australian native, found throughout Queensland, the northern part of the Northern Territory, and along the east coast as far south as Bateman’s Bay, NSW. This plant was collected by Banks and Solander at the Endeavour River in 1770.

It is also found In New Guinea and New Caledonia. The plant photographed was by the side of a walking track through the remnant rainforest at the back of Nelly Bay.

Love Flower is a herb growing from about 15 cm to 30 cm in height, its stems covered in pale hairs. It grows in woodland, open forest, deciduous vine thicket and rainforest, on rocky granite or quartzitic soils, and has a creeping rhizome. The simple, opposite leaves, growing on petioles up to 2 cm long or a little more, are usually mottled green and grey on the upper surface, and occasionally deep red to maroon on the lower surface. The base of the leaf is rounded or sometimes cordate, the apex acute to obtuse. There are 3 – 6 lateral veins on each side of the midrib, and they are clothed in pale hairs, as are sometimes part of the leaf blade. The leaves are 2 – 7 cm long and up to 4 cm wide, lanceolate to ovate in shape. The base of the leaf can be purple, dotted in glands.

The delicate flowers, occurring from November to March, are about 1.5 cm in diameter, or a little more. They are white, lilac, purple or blue in colour, sometimes with spots near the middle. The 2 stamens partly protrude beyond the narrow corolla tube. Occasionally the flowers do not open, especially those lower on the inflorescence, and they are self-fertilizing.

The fruit is a capsule 10 – 15 mm long, sometimes hairy, and the number of seeds varies from a few to many.

The plant supports a number of butterflies, including:

• Leafwing (Doleschallia bisaltide),
• Varied Eggfly (Hypolimnas bolina),
• some of the Danaidae,
• the Blue-banded Eggflies (Hypolimnas alimena), and
• the Blue Argus (Junonia orithya).

The flower sprays are eaten by the Eastern Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbata).

Photographs taken in Nelly Bay 2014
Page last updated 20th March 2019