Ruellia pohlii

Working on such a spectacular group of plants must feel in part like having 400 favorite children to choose from, right? Each day I try to avoid playing the favorites game, but sometimes succumb. For a large portion of our August 2016 fieldtrip in Brazil, Ruellia pohlii was my favorite. We found this absolutely remarkable species in a gorgeous cerrado over sandy soils, 33 km W of Cavalcante headed towards Serra do Tombador. But, wait for it….

THIS SPECIES IS DISTICHOUS!!!! To my knowledge it is the only species with such a growth form in the entire Acanthaceae. I even have a movie of it spinning around, which ought to be X-rated to an Acanth systematist.

In addition to its remarkable growth form, note the diaphanous leaf veins.

Plants were locally common in a small area but not found anywhere else. By its distichous growth form (to about 20 cm tall), its purple corollas, and its narrow leaves, the only name that can possibly be applied to these plants is Ruellia pohlii. Little known, never used, time to resurrect it from the dead. Ruellia species diversity is growing by the day.

Wild collected, Brazil, Erin Tripp #5933 w/ Nico Medina, Cíntia Kameyama (COLO); Photos by Erin Tripp & Cíntia Kameyama*

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