Hypoestes aristata (Ribbon Bush)

The ribbon bush is a neat, evergreen, hardy perennial plant with dark green leaves and an abundance of attractive mauve or pink flowers from autumn to early spring.

Name & classification

Botanical name:
Hypoestes aristata

Common names:
Ribbon Bush (English); Seeroogblommetjie (Afrikaans); uhladlwana olukhulu, uhlonyane, uhlalwane (isiZulu)

Plant family:
Acanthaceae

Plant categories:
Shrubs; Non-herbaceous Perennials; Groundcovers


Name derivation & history:
The word 'hypo' in Greek means 'under' and 'estia' means 'a house' referring to the way the bracts cover the calyx.

Pictures


Features

Leaf habit:
Evergreen

Height:
1.5 metres

Plant shape:
A neat rounded shrub up to 1.5 metres high.

Leaf description:
Soft, hairy, dark green oval leaves.

Flower description:
Attractive mauve or pink flowers borne on spike-like inflorescences.

Flower colour:
Mauve or pink

Flowering months:
May to September

Habitat

Natural distribution:
From the Eastern Cape in the south to tropical Africa in the north.

Habitat:
It is usually found in dry thicket, forest and damp places.

Water requirements:
Waterwise (little water required)

Frost tolerance:
Hardy

Light conditions:
Sun; semi-shade; shade

Other Characteristics

Drought resistant
Has non-aggressive roots
Suitable for cut flowers
Low maintenance

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:
Bees, flies and other small insects visit the flowers in search of nectar or pollen, thus becoming a food source for insectivorous birds, like Puffback (Dryoscopus cubla), Southern Boubou (Laniarius ferrugineus), barbets, robins and thrushes.
Attracts birds
Attracts insects

Other information

Uses & Cultural aspects:
Ribbon bush is eaten as spinach in some areas, while traditionally crushed leaves are used as a poultice for sore eyes.

It makes a good cut flower because it lasts well in water.

Cultivation:
The ribbon bush can be propagated from both seeds and cuttings. When seeds are sown in August they will germinate in three weeks. It also tends to self-seed prolifically in the garden.

You can collect a handful of seeds and sow them in containers or plastic bags until they are large enough to be planted directly in the garden.

Ribbon bush should be watered well in summer but less in winter and it needs to be pruned back after flowering. It requires very little attention because it grows easily in the garden.

Given the right conditions this is a very fast growing shrub.

References:
SANBI

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