ACANTHACEAE – Mackaya – Mackaya bella




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.


Mackaya includes a single species of evergreen shrub from eastern South Africa. It grows along wooded riverbanks in an other wise semiarid region. Dainty mackaya thrives in the woodland understory. It blooms well in light conditions that are lower than those of most flowering shrubs. it is uncommon in cultivation but highly recommended. Mulch well to maintain even moisture and reduce the frequency of irrigation.

Mackaya bella

Mackaya, forest bell – bush

Synonym: Asystasia bella. South Africa. Evergreen shrub to 6 ft, zones 9-10. Blooms spring, ┬ásporadically summer, fall. Regular moisture. Fertile, well – drained soil. Bright filtered light to bright shade. Flowers: bell – shaped, pale lavender to white, throat lined with fine purple veins. Leaves: elliptic to 5 in.long, tip narrowing abruptly to a point, glossy, margins wavy, irregularly toothed, petioles short.

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