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Products > Plectranthus barbatus
 
Plectranthus barbatus - Winslow Spur Flower
   

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae) (Mints)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Violet
Bloomtime: Fall/Spring
Synonyms: [Coleus barbatus, C. fruticosus 'Winslow', Hort.]
Height: 6-8 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Cool Sun/Light Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Plectranthus barbatus (Blue Spur Flower) - A fast growing erect large shrub to 6 to 8+ feet tall by as wide with thick stems holding large 4 to 6 inch long ovate light green leaves that are lightly fuzzy and have small dentations along the margins. In fall through late spring and often well into summer appear the showy dark blue-purple flowers arranged in stacked verticils, each holding 6 to 8 flowers, arranged along in a 10 inch long inflorescence. Plant in full sun to part shade and water occasionally - pretty drought tolerant but certainly looks more lush with some regular irrigation. Will resprout after a frost freezes top growth and seems root hardy to 20 to 25 F but evergreen only in near frostless conditions - useful in USDA zones 9 -11. This plant has long lasting blooms and will even flower in the shade but looks good even with just the foliage and is great for adding a somewhat lush tropical look to the garden or as a backdrop for other smaller flowering plants. It is used as a hedge-plant in Kenya and Ernst van Jaarsveld notes in his book The South African Plectranthus that in South Africa this plant "makes an attractive large shrub with dark blue-purple flowers, popular with gardeners and is commonly grown where frost is not severe". Plectranthus barbatus is considered native to a huge range from Pakistan, India, Nepal and Ceylon south through Arabia, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, East African, South Tropical Africa and naturalized into southern Africa. Henry Charles Andrews first described this plant in 1809 as Coleus barbatus but Andrews did not indicate the specific locality, only noting plants grown from seed collected in "Abyssinia" (Africa). It is thought that the likely source was Henry Salt, who was collecting in Eritrea and the Tilgray region of Ethiopia from 1802 to 1806 on an expedition with George Annesley, the Earl of Mountnorris and Viscount Valentia. Plectranthus barbatus can be seen in gardens throughout Santa Barbara, where it has been cultivated for more nearly 30 years. We believe it was first introduced into our area by Daryll Combs of Daryll's Exotic Plants in the 1980's under the incorrect name Coleus lanuginosus. Coleus lanuginosus, now Plectranthus lanuginosus, is a much smaller plant, but also with attractive blue flowers. This plants is also grown in the California nursery trade as Plectranthus fruticosus 'Winslow' because it was apparently inadvertently labeled as such at the San Francisco Botanic Garden. It is also sometimes listed as Plectranthus comosus, an invalid name first associated in the late 19th century with Plectranthus ornatus and later listed as a synonym for Plectranthus barbatus. This plant is grown throughout the world, likely because of its herbal uses, pharmaceutical qualities and in India it is grown for its edible roots and in parts of Africa as a substitute for toilet paper. Given its wide natural range and cultivation elsewhere, it is not surprising it has many additional common names such as Indian Coleus, Kaffir Potatoe, Abyssinian Coleus, Marundhu Koorkan, False Boldo and Kikuyu Toilet Paper. Our plant came from Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden in Santa Barbara, California where it was planted by long time park caretaker Carol Terry.  This description is based on research and observations of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in our nursery garden and in other gardens that we visit. We also incorporate comments received and appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have any additional information about this plant, particularly if they disagree with what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Plectranthus barbatus.
 
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