Mussaenda pubescens

Today’s photo and article come to us from Douglas Justice, Curator of Collections, UBCBG.

This sprawling evergreen shrub or climber is native to southern China. I’ve photographed a similar species (or perhaps the same one, but with orange flowers) in Washington DC, where it was cultivated as a summer bedding plant. Here, it is a background native plant in the Magnolia Collection at the South China Botanical Garden, in Guangzhou, China. You can also find it in the Medicinal Plants Area, Pu Gang Reserve, which is also part of this fantastic garden. According to the Dictionary of Chinese Traditional Medicine (1986), the plant has been used as a diuretic, antichloristic and antipyretic agent. It has also been employed against laryngopharyngitis, acute gastroenteritis and dysentery, and as a contraceptive.

The expanded, flag-like sepals are reminiscent of those borne on a number of familiar ornamentals, including hydrangeas, but more particularly, Schizophragma hydrangeoides. Such flag-like flower parts—at least the white ones—are adapted to increasing visibility for and hence, visitation by, moths, such as the magnificent Atlas moth, which is native to the same part of the world. The moths effect pollination and find a nectar "reward" at the base of the tubular flowers.

Mussaenda pubescens

7 responses to “Mussaenda pubescens”

  1. Annie Morgan

    I’ll check my Chinese herbal remedies and see if it is listed!!

  2. Carolina

    Very interesting plant.

  3. Quin

    looks Rubiaceous, is there also a fragrance?

  4. Loey

    Wow – you had me at pubescens and I’m not even in the Scripps bee.
    I always wonder how someone first discovers that a plant has medicinal properties. Loey

  5. elizabeth a airhart

    thank you for the links
    the gardens in china look beautiful
    i do wish one could click and open
    each image – the moth page is very nice
    the plant is handsome – and might need
    it if the flu keeps spreading
    one of the links yesterday lead me
    to the pine barrens of nj
    i am in florida but nj is my home state
    thank you for all your work and shareing

  6. Carlos Velazco


  7. Abu Bakar Bin Ali

    In the Malaysian herbal world the common name for Mussaenda pubescens is ‘Janda Kaya’ or literally translated as ‘the Rich Widow.’ In Bali, Indonesia, it is called ‘Musa Indah’ or literally translated, ‘the Beautiful Mosses.’

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