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Products > Callisia navicularis
Callisia navicularis - Mexican Chain Plant

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Perennial
Family: Commelinaceae (Spiderworts)
Origin: South America
Evergreen: Yes
Red/Purple Foliage: Yes
Flower Color: Violet
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Height: <1 foot
Width: Spreading
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25° F
Callisia navicularis (Mexican Chain Plant) – A creeping evergreen perennial plant, rooting at the nodes with some short stems growing upright with tight overlapping leaves and other stems with leaves more open and spreading along the ground, from which the shorter stems and flowers arise. The stems are succulent and clasped tightly by 3/4 to 1 inch long hard and waxy deeply guttered (canaliculate) lanceolate leaves that are held in a distichous arrangement on opposite sides of the stem. These unique leaves are a bronze-green above and streaked purple below and described by some as resembling plates of medieval armor. In summer, when grown in bright light, the bright lilac-pink flowers, partially hidden in the leaflike bracts, open in the morning and close later in the afternoon, lasting but one day with successive flowers not appearing for several more days, which gives this plant one of its common names, Day Flower. Plant in full coastal sun to bright part day sun or light shade in a well-drained soil. Pretty drought tolerant but best with occasional irrigation spring and summer, which makes it a good companion plant for other container succulents that get the same irrigation. Requires little irrigation in winter but can tolerate winter rainfall so long a the soil is well draining. This is an attractive container plant with interesting foliage. Great for a companion of hanging basket planting. This is a widespread and variable species in Mexico that has been collected in the states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosi and Veracruz. Several forms of this plant have long been grown in California, both as a companion plant to succulents or as an attractive container or groundcover, under the older name Tradescantia navicularis. The Mexican Chain Plant and Tradescantia sillamontana were considered the most succulent and xerophytic species of the genus but more recently this species was moved into the genus Callisa because the lack of the paired bracts below the inflorescence, a different type of seed and DNA studies that indicate it more distantly related. The name for the genus is derived from the Greek word 'kallos' meaning "beauty" and the specific epithet is the New Latin word meaning "boat shaped" from the Latin word 'navis' meaning a "ship", in reference to the deeply guttered leaves that are keeled on their underside like a boat. Other common names include Inch Plant, Striped Inch Plant, Window’s Tears and Day Flower. We thank John Bleck for giving us several forms of this nice plant.  The information on this webpage is based on research conducted about this plant in our nursery library, from online sources, as well as from observations made of it as it grows in the nursery in containers, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens where we have observed it growing. We will also incorporate comments received from others and welcome getting feedback from those who may have additional information, particularly if this information includes cultural information that would aid others in growing  Callisia navicularis.