Asystasia gangetica

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Chinese Violet
Asystasia gangetica from Kalepolepo, Maui
Asystasia gangetica micrantha from Amanzimtoti, South Africa
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Acanthaceae
Genus: Asystasia
Species: A. gangetica
Binomial name
Asystasia gangetica
(L.) T.Anderson
  • Asystasia parvula C.B.Clarke
  • Asystasia querimbensis Klotzsch
  • Asystasia pubescens Klotzsch
  • Asystasia subhastata Klotzsch
  • Asystasia quarterna Nees
  • Asystasia scabrida Klotzsch
  • Asystasia floribunda Klotzsch
  • Asystasia coromandeliana Nees
  • Justicia gangetica L.
  • Asystasia acuminata Klotzsch
  • Asystasia coromandeliana Nees var. micrantha Nees
  • Asystasia multiflora Klotzsch
  • Asystasia ansellioides C.B.Clarke var. lanceolata Fiori
  • Asystasia podostachys Klotzsch[1]

Asystasia gangetica is a species of plant in the Acanthaceae family. It is commonly known as the Chinese Violet, Coromandel[2] or Creeping Foxglove.[3] In South Africa this plant may simply be called Asystasia.[4]


This plant is a spreading herb or groundcover, reaching 600 mm in height[3][4] or up to 1 m if supported.[5] The stems root easily at the nodes.[3] The leaves are simple[3] and opposite.[5] The fruit is an explosive capsule which starts out green in colour, but dries to brown after opening.[5]


  • A. g. gangetica, has larger (30–40 mm long) blue or mauve flowers.[5]
  • A. g. micrantha (Nees) Ensermu, has smaller (up to 25 mm long.[5]) white flowers with purple markings on the lower lip.[4]


Widespread throughout the Old World Tropics, and introduced into tropical Americas[6] and Hawaii, where it has become naturalized.[2] Both subspecies of this plant have been introduced to Australia where A. g. micrantha is on the National Environmental Alert List and must be reported when found.[5] The original range of the subspecies is unclear,[5] but it is likely that A. g. gangetica was limited to Asia, and A. g. micrantha was limited to Africa.[3]


In some parts of Africa, the leaves are eaten as a vegetable and used as an herbal remedy in traditional African medicine.[7] The leaves are used in many parts of Nigeria as a traditional African medicine for the management of asthma.[8] It is also used as an ornamental plant.[3]

Ecological Significance[edit]

This is an important plant for honeybees, butterflies and other insects.[3][4] In southern Africa there are at least seven species of butterfly and moth that use A. g. micrantha as a larval foodplant; Junonia oenone, Junonia hierta, Junonia natalica, Junonia terea, Protogoniomorpha parhassus, Hypolimnas misippus[9] and Microplexia costimaculalis.[10] The vigorous growth of A. g. micrantha in tropical regions.[3] makes it a weed which can smother certain indigenous vegetation where it has been introduced.[5]



  1. ^ Jstor Plant Science, Asystasia gangetica synonyms:, retrieved 28 July 2010
  2. ^ a b Plants of Hawaii: Asystasia gangetica:, retrieved 28 July 2010
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h South African National Biodiversity Institute: Asystasia gangetica:, retrieved 28 July 2010
  4. ^ a b c d Pooley, E. (1998). A Field Guide to Wild Flowers; KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region. ISBN 0-620-21500-3.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Weed Identification, Australia:, retrieved 28 July 2010.
  6. ^ Jstor Plant Science, Asystasia gangetica:, retrieved 28 July 2010.
  7. ^ Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (2004) Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables. PROTA Foundation, Wageningen; Backhuys, Leiden; CTA, Wageningen.
  8. ^ Akah, P.A.; Ezike, A.C.; Nwafor, S.V.; Okoli, C.O.; Enwerem, N.M. (2003). "Evaluation of the anti-asthmatic property of Asystasia gangetica leaf extracts". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 89 (1): 25–36. doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(03)00227-7. PMID 14522429. 
  9. ^ Williams, M. (1994). Butterflies of Southern Africa; A Field Guide. ISBN 1-86812-516-5.
  10. ^ Guillermet, 2005. Les Hétérocères ou papillons de nuit, de l'île de La Réunion. Volume 1. Famille des Noctuidae Quadrifides. - — :1–532, pls. 1–13.

External links[edit]