Strobilanthes gossypinus

Persian Shield

by Helen Curran

strobilanthes 1Strobilanthes gossypinus is native to the hill country of South India and Sri Lanka.  It is a stunning shrub growing to around 1.2m x 1.2m and has a rounded, dense habit that looks neat and tidy all year long.  This shrub shimmers silver and gold in the sunlight, the new leaves are covered in golden hairs and as these leaves mature the gold hairs turn to a silvery grey colour; the underside of the leaves feel like felt to the touch.

Strobilanthes gossypinus prefers morning to early afternoon sun only and protection from frost.  The soil should be well drained and kept drier during the winter months.  Once established, it is very drought resistant but it will need to be kept moister during warmer months until it is established.  One of mine, has reached its full size after only a couple of years; this coming spring it will be pruned back.  It is perfect for seaside gardens as the furry leaves resist salt-laden winds with ease.  The species name gossypinus refers to the masses of shiny hairs on the leaves, it means cotton-like in Latin.
Strobilanthes gossypinus was one of the most asked about plants in my garden when it was open last April.  It is a eye catching shrub within the garden and ideal for adding colour contrast to the garden as its unusual texture and colour contrasts dramatically with the surrounding foliage.  It is definitely a worthwhile addition to any garden with its easy care habit.

 The Strobilanthes genus are mainly tropical shrubs and one to keep an eye out for is Strobilanthes dyerianus, which grows to between 60cm to 1m in height.  This spectacular plant has unique foliage, the variegated leaves are iridescent shades of blue, purple and silver; its violet flowers are held in terminal spikes.persian shield

Another  one  which will grow very well here is the Pink Strobilanthes  (Strobilanthes cusia) as it grows beautifully in Brisbane's outer suburbs.  It is a very showy plant with prominent thickened veins and bright pink flowers.   Fresh juice from it leaves is used on Okinawa Island, in Japan, as a popular remedy for athlete's foot

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