In the next town forum, I would like to ask 2016 United States presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump what their thoughts are on the distinctiveness of Ruellia neesiana and Ruellia macrantha. When the smarter one replies that she thinks it is primarily the purple vs. pinkish corolla hues as well as allopatry, and the dumber one replies by asking why I talk in italics, I will tell them both that I don’t care about their answers because I SAW RUELLIA NEESIANA MACRANTHA WHATEVER IT IS ALIVE IN THE FIELD AND YOU DIDN’T!!
The long-standing supposed features distinguishing these two entities are, just as The Queen said, corolla color and allopatry. Ruellia neesiana is said to have purple corollas whereas Ruellia macrantha has pink corollas. I have (and Lucinda has) for many years cultivated the latter in my greenhouse (her in her garden), courtesy of some miscellaneous seed catalogue. When I arrived for the first time ever in the native habitat of Ruellia neesiana in August of 2016, I was fully expecting to see very differently pigmented, richly purple corollas. That’s not what I found. Instead, I found a plant that reminded me highly of R. macrantha, albeit a bit more purple. Still, I have yet to see the latter in the field and do not yet have anthocyanin data on both entities, and will withhold final judgment on ‘one vs. two’ until I do.
This species or these species, whatever you prefer, are absolutely unmistakable for anything else in the entire genus because they are the only lineage to have evolved resupinate corollas. Sort of like orchids but WAY more titillating. At first glance, you might confuse this Acanth for a giant Solanum (they bear some similarity), but the latter guess is not in your best interest.
There is a beautiful population of Ruellia neesiana near the ‘town waterfalls’ of Barra do Garças in Mato Grosso. There is a not so beautiful population of this species in a trash pit not far from the border of Parque Estadual Serra dos Pirinos in Goiás.
Wild collected, Brazil, Erin Tripp #5950 & #5957 w/ Nico Medina, Cíntia Kameyama (COLO); Photos by Erin Tripp