Strobilanthes reptans



Strobilanthes reptans

(G.Forster) Moylan ex Y.F.Deng & J.R.I.Wood 2011

pronounced: stroh-bil-AN-theez REP-tanz

(Acanthaceae — the black-eyed Susan family)

synonym — Hemigraphis reptans

(G.Forst.) T.Anderson ex Hemsl. 1885

pronounced: hem-ee-GRAF-uss REP-tanz

common name: redflame

Strobilanthes is from two Greek words, στραβιλος (strabilos), anything twisted or whirled, and ανθος (anthos), a flower; reptans is Latin, creeping, crawling. In the synonym, Hemigraphis is from the Greek 'ημι- (hémi-), half, and γραφις (graphis), a stylus, paintbrush, referring to the brush-like filaments of the outer stamens. There is some doubt as to the correct name for thisplant. The latest version of the Kew Plant list gives both of the above names as being accepted plant names. There are certainly at least two versions of theplant: the one featured, with white flowers, and what appears to be the type species, with pinkish flowers.

This is a perennial, sprawling or prostrate plant with short stems, often found in shady areas in lawns. It is an introduced plant, originating in the Pacific Islands. The plant photographed was in the lawn at the rear of the houses in the Dunoon development in Picnic Bay. When not cut back by a lawnmower, it will grow to about 15 cm tall.

The glossy dark green leaves have crenate margins and prominent dark purple veins. The underside of the leaves are also a purple shade. The plant roots at the nodes. Petioles are 6 – 18 mm long, the leaf blades 2 – 6 cm long (up to 10 cm in favourable conditions), 1 – 3 cm wide, oblong-lanceolate to elliptic, rounded to obtuse at the apex, obtuse to truncate at the base.

The solitary or few solitary or few flowers, borne terminally or axillary, are sessile or almost so. The calyx is cylindrical, up to about 8 mm long, the lobes separating and persistent in fruit. The corolla is 11 – 13 or so mm long, white or whitish, suffused with purple within.

Fruits are capsules, up to about 1 cm long, elastically dehiscent.

This is a very aggressive plant, and easily becomes a weed not only of lawns, but of roadsides, ponds, and on the banks of streams, anywhere from sea level to about 400 m altitude.

In colder climates, this is often grown as a houseplant or an annual. If grown indoors, it requires bright indirect light, and evenly moist soil. It looks well in hanging baskets.


Photograph taken in Picnic Bay 2014
Page last updated 9th April 2019