Scientific Name: Asystasia gangetica ssp. micrantha
Synonyms: Asystasia coromandeliana var. micrantha, Asystasia intrusa, Ruellia intrusa
Common Names: Small Chinese Violet, Asystasia, Creeping Foxglove
Growth Habit: Subshrub, Vine, Herb/Forb
Hawaii Native Status: Introduced. This naturalized weed and ornamental flowering groundcover subspecies is native to tropical Africa.
Flower Color: Bicolored purple and white
Flowering Season: Year-round
Height: 3 to 10 feet (1 to 3 m) long
Description: The flowers are in small, one-sided racemes at the stem tips. The individual flowers are tubular, white, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, and have 5 rounded lobes, purple, vein-ridged markings on the lower lip, and 4 stamens. The flowers are followed by elongated, guitar-shaped, 2-lobed, glandular-hairy, green drying to brown seed capsules that explode open when dry, scattering the 4 small, flat seeds a distance from the parent plant. The seeds are attached by hooks inside the seed capsules, and these hooks become visible when the seed capsules are open. The leaves are green, sparsely hairy, opposite, smooth-edged, and egg-shaped to broadly lanceolate in shape. The stems are weakly climbing, sprawling, or trailing and can take root at the nodes.
This subspecies can be recognized by its much smaller, bicolored purple and white flowers and more aggressively weedy habits.
Here in Hawaii, Small Chinese Violet grows in sunny to partly shady disturbed areas at lower elevations. These weedy, mat-forming plants can quickly cover and smother other ground plants.
Butterfly Plant – The flowers attract bees and butterflies, especially Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) butterflies.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Family: Acanthaceae – Acanthus family
Genus: Asystasia Blume – asystasia
Species: Asystasia gangetica (L.) T. Anderson – Chinese violet
Subspecies: Asystasia gangetica (L.) T. Anderson ssp. micrantha (Nees) Ensermu