Graptophyllum pictum

This plant’s origins are not precisely known, but it is be- lieved to be native to New Guinea and the neighbouring islands. It is widely distributed throughout the tropics, where it has been grown as an ornamental plant in gardens for decades. The generic name refers to the variegated leaves and is derived from Greek (graptos = painted, and phyllom = leaf). The leaves are 10-15 cm (4-6 in) long, elliptic, entire and purple or green with prominent, but irregular, yellow and white patches. The flowers, arranged in crowded clusters, measure about 3 cm (1 inch). They are purple and have two lips, a typical characteristic of most members of the Acanthaceae family. The genus Graptophyllum is sometimes mistaken for the closely related genus Pseuderanthemum.

It does well in a light position but does not tolerate direct sunlight. It is more usually grown in a heated greenhouse than in the home. The temperature may be slightly higher than normal room temperature. The compost should contain ample peat and be kept very moist. Propagate by dividing the clumps or by tip cuttings.

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