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Heterocentron elegans

Common Name:
Spanish shawl
Plant Type:
Evergreen perennial
Melastomataceae (The Melastoma Family)
Geographic Origin:
Central America
California Native?:
Plant Size:
Landscape/Garden Uses:
shade gardens
Flowering Season:
Summer and fall
Flower Color:
Rose purple
Light shade
Well-drained soil
Suggested Irrigation:
Regular watering
Estimated Hardiness:
Hardy to 25-30 degrees F.
This is a relative of the princess flower (Tibouchina) but resembles it only in the form of the flowers. The plant is only semi-shrubby and trailing, also branching freely to form a broad mat (or, if it is elevated, a cascade) of slender stems. These are lined by broad, dark leaves only one half to 1 inch long. Clustered at the shoot tips in summer are many broad-petalled flowers, each about an inch across and colored deep purplish magenta. This is a pretty plant for shade gardens and rock walls but needs protection--from hot sun away from the coast, from drying winds, and certainly from hard frosts. It should be kept moist.