ACANTHACEAE – Fittonia- Fittonia verschaffeltii




Acanthaceae includes approximately 256 genera of perennial herbs, shrubs, and climbers, which are widely distributed in warm tem- perate an tropical regions. Leaves are in opposite pairs, often at right angles to the pair above and below (decussate) an stems are often 4 – angled. Flowers are bisexual and bi – laterally symmetrical. The sepals and petals are fused at their bases. Upper and lower petals are some- times elongated into lips. Bracts are often more showy than the tu- bular on funnel- shapdd flowers. The fruit in a dry capsule that, in cenrtain species, opens explosively to scatter the seed. The shrubby species described here can be used to create informal nat – ural beds in the English perennial garden style or ┬ámay be lightly clipped as specimen plants or hedges. Most are suitable for con- tainers. For those that require even moisture, a thick layer of mulch greathly reduces the amount of irri – gation needed.


Fittonia includes a single species of perennial herb from South America. Its natural environment is the moist rainforest understory. It is grown for its colorful, variegated foliage. Fittonia verschaffeltii var. verschaffeltii has red leaf veins. Fittonia verschaffeltii var. argyroneura, with white leaf veins, was formerly given species status. Both varieties are highly sensitive to cold and are commonly kept in containers or baskets that can be moved indoors when nights are chilly.

Fittonia verschaffeltii.

Mosaic – plant, nerve – plant

Peru. Evergreen subshrub under 1 ft, zone 11. Blooms summer. Regular moisture, Fertile, humus – rich, well – drained soil. Medium filtered light. Flowers: small, trumpet – shaped, white, lower lip 3 – lobed, opening a few at a time, bracts hairy, spikes erect, 4 – angled. Leaves: Ovate, 2-3 in. long, olivegreen, veins reticulated, red. A creeping species suitable for hanging baskets and beds in warm locations. Var, argyroneura has white veins.

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