(Ruellia ciliosa) Acanthus family

Flowers - Pale violet blue, showy, about 2 in. long, solitary or

clustered in the axils or at the end of stem. Calyx of 5

bristle-shaped hairy segments; corolla with very slender tube

expanding above in 5 nearly equal obtuse lobes; stamens 4; pistil

with recurved style. Stem: Hairy, especially above, erect, 1 to 2

1/2 ft. high. Leaves: Opposite, oblong, narrowed at apex, entire,

covered with soft white hairs.

Preferred Habitat - Dry soil.

Flowering Season - June-September.

Distribution - New Jersey southward to the Gulf and westward to

Michigan and Nebraska.

Many charming ruellias from the tropics adorn hothouses and

window gardens in winter; but so far north as the New Jersey pine

barrens, and westward where killing frosts occur, this perennial

proves to be perfectly hardy. In addition to its showy blossoms,

which so successfully invite insects to transfer their pollen,

thereby counteracting the bad effects of close inbreeding, the

plant bears inconspicuous cleistogamous or blind ones also. These

look like arrested buds that never open; but, being fertilized

with their own pollen, ripen abundant seed nevertheless.

One frequently finds holes bitten in these flowers, as in so many

others long of tube or spur. Bumblebees, among the most

intelligent and mischievous of insects, are apt to be the chief

offenders; but wasps are guilty too, and the female carpenter

bee, which ordinarily slits holes to extract nectar, has been

detected in the act of removing circular pieces of the corolla

from this ruellia with which to plug up a thimble-shaped tube in

some decayed tree. Here she deposits an egg on top of a layer of

baby food, consisting of a paste of pollen and nectar, and seals

up the nursery with another bit of leaf or flower, repeating the

process until the long tunnel is filled with eggs and food for

larvae. Then she dies, leaving her entire race apparently

extinct, and living only in embryo for months. This is the bee

which commonly cuts her round plugs from rose leaves.

The SMOOTH RUELLIA (R. strepens), an earlier bloomer than the

preceding, and with a more southerly range, has a shorter,

thicker tube to its handsome blue flower, and lacks the hairs

which guard its relative from crawling pilferers.

HAIRY BEARDTONGUE HARDHACK STEEPLE BUSH facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail