Barleria oenotheroides

yellow barleria


Barleria oenotheroides

Dum.Cours. 1814

pronounced: bar-LEER-ee-uh ee-no-theer-OY-deez

(Acanthaceae — the black-eyed Susan family)

synonym — Barleria micans

Nees. 1846

pronounced:bar-LEER-ee-uh MY-kanz

common names: yellow barleria, giant shrimp plant

The genus name Barleria is in honour of Jacques Barrelier (1606-1673), a French Dominican monk who was a physician, botanist, plant collector and author; oenotheroides means ‘resembling Oenothera ’, the primrose genus, whose name is from the Greek οινοθηρας (oinothéras), a plant the root of which smells like wine, or was used to flavour wine. In the synonym, micans is Latin for ‘gleaming’. Nurserymen usually sell the plant as Barleria micans. Barleria œnotheroides was first described by the French botanist and agronomist George Louis Marie Dumont de Courset (1746-1824).

This plant has an interesting biogeographic story: of the nearly 300 species of Barleria, it is the only one to be found in the New World (Mexico, Central America and Colombia). For many years it was thought to be a species endemic to the New World, but recent work has shown that it is conspecific with a species in tropical West Africa (Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Nigeria).

This is a tender woody subshrub reaching 80-120 cm in height, at first erect then often straggling, the stems covered with stiff yellowish hairs. Given the right conditions, the plants will form into a pleasantly rounded shape The deep green simple leaves are opposite, lanceolate, entire and petiolate. The midrib and the other veins are prominent on the underside of the leaf.

The branch tips carry an upright, candle-like row of green prickly bracts, from which the flowers appear. The flowers are infundibuliform, nearly 5 cm long, bilaterally symmetrical, with 4 upright lobes and one yellow lip, turning mauve as they dry. There are 2 stamens and a pistil, lying along the lower lip. The flowers attract humming birds and butterflies. The fruits are loculicidal capsules.

The plants prefer a sunny to a half-shady situation on moist soil, with a substrate of sandy loam. They are not frost-hardy, and will not stand severe drought. They are propagated by stem cuttings or spikes.

The plants photographed were growing in a roadside garden in Mango Parkway, Nelly Bay. Although they were in flower, the plants were rather stressed in a period of very dry weather, coinciding with watering restrictions.


Photographs taken in Nelly Bay, 2016
Page last updated 18th October 2018