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Products > Plants - Browse By Plant Category > Grass-like > Barbacenia purpurea
Barbacenia purpurea - Purple Vellozia

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Grass-like
Family: Velloziaceae
Origin: Brazil (South America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Purple
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Synonyms: [Vellozia "Purple III", Pleurostima violacea]
Height: 1 foot
Width: <1 foot
Exposure: Cool Sun/Light Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): High Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 30-32 F
Barbacenia purpurea (Purple Vellozia) - A small 6 to 8 inch tall tufted plant with dark green grass-like foliage and star-shaped 1 inch wide deep purple flowers on stems that rise to 12 to 18 inches. Plant in part sun to light shade in coastal gardens and irrigate regularly. It does not like overly rich or heavy soils or disturbance of the root system and it may be best if kept in large pots with very well-drained soil. Water regularly and protect from frost - most note it not hardy to any frost but we have had unprotected plants weather short duration temperatures at 28 F without noticeable damage. This plant is from from Brazil, and likely from the state of Minas. This plant has made the rounds - we have received it from several sources but they all seem to trace back to the amazing plantsman, the late Fred Meyer. It has been offered in the US as Vellozia "Purple III, Minas Gerais" or Pleurostima violacea but we believe that the correct name is Barbacenia purpurea. Our first plants were grown from seed that came to us from a Santa Barbara gardener in 2005 from plants purchased as Vellozia sp. from Kartuz Greenhouse and listed on their website with the synonym Pleurostima violacea. We also got plants from Dylan Hannon, Curator of Plants at the conservatory at the Huntington Botanic Gardens as Barbacenia cf. purpurea and purchased seed offered in the Plantsman's Pocket selection from Seedhunt under this same name. As it turns out this seed came from Martin Grantham who told us that his plant came from Dylan Hannon. Martin noted that this plant has not been happy in bay area gardens because it is not cold hardy enough and suffers from pest problems if brought into the greenhouse. It seems very happy outdoors for us here in Santa Barbara and its use may be confined to cooler southern California coastal gardens. It is in the Velloziaceae family with members in South America and South Africa. We also grow a South African species in this family, Talbotia elegans, from the Drakensberg mountains.  This description is based on our research and observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We will also incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information about this plant, in particular if this information is contrary to what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Barbacenia purpurea.