Ruellia hygrophila – in the field! in the cellulose!
ANOTHER huge thanks to John Wood for contributing the first image to the website. I have long propagated it in the greenhouse, but have never encountered any images of plants in their native environments…until now! This species is sister to Ruellia morongii, both basal rosette forming species, and together both call the “Euruellia Clade” home (see Tripp 2007, Systematic Botany). This, by the way, is a very cool clade that includes some southern South American members as well as primarily North American members. Sort of a sweet disjunction.
The second photo depicts R. hygrophila in the greenhouses. It has remarkably scabrous / sandpapery leaves. If you up-pot it you’ll note its deep and tuberous roots. The species is adapted to the fire-prone cerrado landscapes of Brazil. I’m quite fond of it. Eccentric and unique.
Wild collected, Bolivia, Darwin Initiative Project 16-004
Not vouchered, Cultivated (DUKE and RSABG Greenhouses)
Update (Sep 2016): chance encounter with this species as only saw it once during our 100 km tour through Bolivia and then 49 km down a dirt road that was not supposed to exist! This population was located in southeastern Bolivia (other records of it extend from southwestern Brazil, Paraguay, N.E. Argentina and N.W. Uruguay).
This species grew right at roadside in secondary forest. Very different growth form from other Ruellia as it forms basal rosettes with leaves prostrate against the ground, and is on the small size (appox..9 cm tall).
Wild collected, Bolivia, Tripp et al. #6019 (COLO); Photos by Manuel Luján; Blog post by Dina Clark