Barleria cristata

Common Name: Philippine violet 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Acanthaceae
Native Range: India, Burma
Zone: 9 to 11
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: September to December
Bloom Description: Pink, purple, white or mauve-white stripes
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11 where this small shrub (or subshrub) is typically found growing along roadsides, slopes, and streambanks, but also in some xeric sites. Best growth typically occurs in dry to medium moisture well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. Although drought tolerant, shrubs prefer moderate but even soil moisture. Best flowering occurs with regular applications of fertilizer. Propagate by seed or stem/tip cuttings. Shrubs self sow in the landscape. Prune to desired shape. Cut back stems in spring (sometimes to the ground) to promote a bushy rounded growth. Shrubs may survive winter in Zone 8, but to facilitate this climate, stems should be cut back to the ground when winter frosts kill the tops, with application of mulch to the root zone for winter (mound of sand covered with a layer of pine straw). Mulch must be removed in late winter to early spring in anticipation of new growth for the year. This shrub, even with a quality winter mulch, will not survive temperatures that dip below 20 degrees F.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Barleria cristata, commonly known as Philippine violet, is a dense, upright, hairy-stemmed, subtropical, evergreen subshrub in the acanthus family that typically matures to 3-4’ tall with a spread to 2-3’ wide. It is native from northern India and Myanmar (Burma) to southern China and Southeast Asia. Potential growing areas in the U.S. for this shrub include Florida, southern Louisiana and Texas, southern Arizona and California. Elliptic to narrow-ovate to oblong leaves (to 4” long and 2” wide) are dark green above and pale green beneath. Funnel-shaped, 2-inch long flowers (pink, purple, white or mauve with white stripes) bloom in axillary spikes on new growth over a long flowering season from September to December plus mid-spring (May). Flowers are followed by seedpods.

Genus name honors Jacques Barrelier (1606-1673) French botanist and monk.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word cristatus meaning crested or with tassel-like tips.

Common name of Philippine violet is a bit of an enigma because, although its flowers are arguably of violet color, the shrub has no relationship to the Philippine Islands or violets.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to bacterial leaf spot, fungal spots and stem galls. Aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites may appear.

Uses

Background or specimen shrub. Border. Hedge. Foundations. Mass planting.