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Is a member of the Acanthaceae (acanthus) family with common relatives including Crossandra, Aphelandra, Fittonia and Beloperone (shrimp plant).
Native to Tropical Africa.
Is a twining perennial, but often grown as an annual.
Leaves are to 3 inches, ovate to cordate, margins dentate, and petiole winged.
Genus named after Dr. Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1822), who traveled in Japan and Java, eventually becoming a Professor of Botany at the University of Uppsala. While studying medicine, he became fascinated with the work of Linnaeus and thereafter concentrated on plants.
Specific epithet “alata” in reference to its winged petioles.
Will easily flower the first year from seed.
Most often grown as a frost tender annual but can over winter in warmer areas. If grown as a perennial, spring pruning is generally in order.
Recent Research Findings:
To date, no postharvest literature has been uncovered for this species.