Asystasia gangetica (Creeping Foxglove)
Plant image

Creeping foxglove is an attractive, fast-growing, spreading, herbaceous groundcover with rich, dark green leaves and an abundance of beautiful flowers for most of the summer.

Name & classification

Botanical name:
Asystasia gangetica

Common names:
Creeping Foxglove (English); Isihobo (isiZulu)

Plant family:
Acanthaceae

Plant categories:
Non-herbaceous Perennials; Groundcovers


Name derivation & history:
Asystasia means inconsistency and relates to the fact that the corolla is more or less regular which is unusual in the family Acanthaceae.

The word gangetica is derived from the Ganges River in India where it is presumed the species occurs.

Pictures

Features

Leaf habit:
Evergreen

Height:
30 to 60 cm

Plant shape:
This is an attractive, spreading, dense herbaceous groundcover.

Leaf description:
Leaves are simple and dark green.

Flower description:
It produces a cream-coloured flower with tessellated purple markings on the palate (lower petal of the corolla) in spring and summer.

Flower colour:
Cream and purple

Flowering months:
November to April

Fruit description:
Flowers are followed by capsules with brown seeds.

Bark or stem description:
The stems root easily at the nodes.

Habitat

Natural distribution:
Aystasia gangetica is widely distributed from tropical Asia to southern Africa. The subspecies found in South Africa differs from the Asian plant which usually has larger pink flowers. The South African subspecies occurs along the eastern coastal areas of the country and in the north. It is recorded from the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga, Botswana and Namibia.

Water requirements:
Little water required, but does best with plenty of summer water

Frost tolerance:
Semi-hardy (tolerates mild frost for short periods)

Light conditions:
Sun; semi-shade; shade

Other Characteristics

Drought resistant
Has non-aggressive roots
Suitable for growing in containers

Edibility & Toxicity

Edible leaves
We have no confirmation that any part of this plant is toxic, however we urge caution as this information may be incorrect.

Ecology

Interaction with physical surroundings:
In nature, Asystasia has developed a good relationship with the honeybee that pollinates the flowers. The white petals of the flowers and purple blue strip on the lower petal attract the insect, indicating to the honeybee where to find the nectar.

The flowers serve as food for beetles and the plant receives visits from ants. The flowers are very attractive to butterflies too.
Attracts insects

Other information

Uses & Cultural aspects:
This ground cover can be used as a mass planting under large trees and borders in full sun, semi-shade or full shade. It is also a good container plant.

Leaves have been eaten as spinach by the local people.

Cultivation:
This ground cover thrives in semi-shade and will also grow in sunny spots if it receives adequate moisture. It can be planted in any soil in the garden, but will do better if plenty of compost is added.

Propagate from cuttings taken after flowering or by removing rooted runners (small plants must be protected from frost).

Please note that this creeper can be highly invasive and should be planted with care. Its ability to reproduce by vegetative propagation can result in it smothering surrounding vegetation with its herbaceous layer.

Pests & diseases:
Watch out for the most common pest. It is called dodder (Cuscuta campestris). It is a slender, leafless, parasitic herb with yellow, twining stems reaching a height of up to 2 m and forming dense patches up to 5 m across. It forms little whitish flowers in November to April. The fruit are greenish yellow capsules. The affected plants must be removed and destroyed immediately.

Notes:
According to the Global Invasive Species Database this creeper has caused major problems in the ecosystems of the Pacific Islands. It is potentially highly invasive.

Your notes & lists

You need to be a registered user in order to create plant lists and notes. If you have already registered, then please log in now, otherwise, register here. It will only take a moment and we won't pass your information on to anyone else.

You can then use this section to create lists of your own plants in your garden, or a list of favourite plants or simply a wish list