Scientific Name: Justicia betonica
Synonym: Nicoteba betonica
Common Names: Squirrel's Tail, Squirrel Tail, White Shrimp Plant, Paper Plume
Growth Habit: Herb/Forb
Hawaii Native Status: Introduced. This naturalized ornamental garden plant is native to Africa and tropical Asia.
Flower Color: Pinkish lavender, Pink
Height: To 5 feet (1.5) tall or more
Description: The small flowers are in showy, upright, terminal or axillary spikes of leafy, green-veined, white bracts that look like white flower spikes from a distance. Each flower is surrounded by 3 white bracts. The individual flowers are pale lavender or pink, tubular, and distinctly 2-lipped with a cupped upper lip and a 3-lobed lower lip marked with white and magenta-purple at the base. The flowers are followed by club-shaped seed capsules. The leaves are green, opposite, petiolate, egg-shaped to elliptic, and sparsely hairy at the margins and on the veins. The stems are upright and tinged or lined with purple.
This attractive, fast-growing, weedy plant grows in disturbed mesic (moderately wet) areas and spreads rapidly by seed, forming dense stands.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Family: Acanthaceae – Acanthus family
Genus: Justicia L. – water-willow
Species: Justicia betonica L. – squirrel's tail
More About This Plant