Pseuderanthemum variabile

Pastel Flower

Family: Acanthaceae

A creeping perennial plant to 25 cm tall, it has dark green opposite leaves up to about 7 cm long by up to 4 cm wide.

The flowers have 5 petals about 1 x 1 cm which appear between November and May, and can be white, lilac, purple or blue, often with spots near the middle. Occasionally the flowers do not open and are self-fertilising.

The fruit is a capsule, sometimes hairy to about 1 cm long.

Its natural habitat is typically the floor of rainforest or wet eucalyptus forest where it receives dappled shade. However it is hardy in drier situations and grows much slower and not as tall. In sunny locations the flower colour washes out.

Common on the east coast of Australia, north of Bega, New South Wales up to New Guinea and into the Northern Territory.

In the garden

A feature or stand-alone plant, gap fillers, useful for gardens with sandstone outcrops, insect attracting and colour diversity. It can be cut back to ground level if required. Give some water in dry periods.

It is the food plant for caterpillars of a number of butterflies in the family Nymphalidae.


Self-sows freely from large seed capsules, so new plants can be dug up or divide rhizomes or take stem cuttings.

It has been reported by some orchid growers that it is an awful orchid weed, infesting pots and hard to eradicate. However, it is thought that this is a specific race of the species which has adapted to orchid nurseries.

Other information

Likely not that prone to fire but regenerates from seed bank after fire.

Pseuderanthemum – from Greek ; pseudes (ψευδες) meaning lies or false.
eranthemum a similar genus of plants in the same family.
variabile – Latin for variable or changeable.

Not considered to be at risk in the wild.


By Jeff Howes