Barleria obtusa - pink

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Botanical Name
Barleria obtusa - pink
Acanthaceae - The acanthus family.
bar-LEH-ree-uh ob-TOO-sah
Common Name(s)
English: Bush Violet
Plant Group
  • Ground Cover A plant with a low-growing, spreading habit, grown specifically to cover the ground.
  • Perennial A plant whose life cycle lasts for three or more seasons.
  • Shrub A woody plant of relatively low height, having several stems arising from the base and lacking a single trunk; a bush.
Plant Size
  • Small
    Tree4m to 8m
    Shrub50cm to 75cm
    Perennial/ground cover10cm to 20cm
    Bulb20cm to 30cm
    Succulent10cm to 20cm
  • Canopy Shade Canopy shade is found below closely grown trees where some light filters through. Ideal for the protection of herbaceous plants.
  • Dry Shade Shady areas where soil has poor water retention or are dependent on rain for their moisture needs.
  • Light or Dappled Shade Found below trees with sparse, open foliage. Ideal for the protection of herbaceous plants.
  • Partial Shade The area is in shade for part of the day and in full sun for part of the day.
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Drought Tolerance: High The plant is well adapted to arid conditions; it can survive long periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Evergreen Plants that have leaves all year round.
  • Prune hard after flowering Fast growing shrubs that grow lanky within a season. Cut off branches and stems of these plants to a third of their original length. This will increase the yield of flowers, improve the plants shape and enhance the structural strength of main branches.
  • Water Wise Plant species originating from low rainfall regions that require less water to survive and thrive than other plant species.
  • Wind Tolerant Plants able to withstand the effect of strong winds.
Specific Information

Plant size varies according to its growing environment: bushy in the sun and with long, sprawling branches in shady areas. Barleria obtusa is often much maligned as being untidy, but the small effort needed to shape this shrub is really worthwhile.

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2-3 cm across with five rounded petals

  • Autumn Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • pink
Growth Rate
  • Fast Specifying growth rate can be very misleading as there is considerable variation of growth rate depending on type and species of plant, available water, supplementary feeding, mulching and general care, as well as the plants suitability and adaptability to the garden environment.
Plant Uses
  • Accent or Focal Point A plant used to attract the attention because of its colour or form.
  • Border A strip of ground, at the edge of a driveway or path in which ornamental plants or shrubs are planted.
  • Boundary A plant useful for planting around the edges of the property to form a green or colourful backdrop, an impenetrable hedge, to hide walls or create privacy.
  • Container Trees, shrubs and ornamental species that can adapt to growing in a restricted environment.
  • Edging A low growing plant that provides softness or definition to the edges of a bed or walkway.
  • Filler Either a fast growing tree or shrub used temporarily to fill in an area while the permanent plants grow to a desired size, or a plant used to fill gaps in borders or beds.
  • Ground Cover Low-lying plants that spread fast, require minimal maintenance, and cover large expanses or bare areas between bulbs or shrubs. They provide protection from erosion and drought and improve the visual appearance of the garden.
  • Hedge Suitable trees or shrubs planted relatively close together so that the branches intertwine to create a barrier. This can be formal – the plants are regularly trimmed to produce a neat shape, or informal – the plants are left to themselves to create a natural hedgerow.
  • Pioneer for new gardens A very fast growing plant, able to withstand hardship, that can be used to populate land that has recently been cleared of natural vegetation. These plants pave the way for slower-growing species by adding nutrients to the soil and creating leaf litter.
  • Rock Garden An area constructed of larger rocks, arranged naturally, to emphasise the use of stones as a main element. Generally plants used do not need a lot of care.
  • Stabilize Banks Plant is used to prevent soil erosion because their roots will form a mat that stabilizes the soil and keeps it from washing away in heavy rains.
  • Suitable for coastal gardens Plants adapted to dry, sandy soil, forceful wind, limited rainfall and intense sunlight.
  • Suitable for smaller gardens Such plants do not have invasive root systems, remain small or controllable and can often be grown in containers.
  • Wild Garden An indigenous garden planted for the benefit of wildlife and birds. Provides food, water, a variety of mini-biomes and no poisonous chemicals are used.
Distribution and Habitat


Planting Suggestions

Barleria obtusa grows in a wide variety of soils. To ensure good drainage, add compost and mulch well to retain water. Although the bush violet is drought resistant, regular watering when possible will result in a spectacular show of colour. Nip off the growing tips during spring and the early part of summer to increase bushiness and flowers. After the shrub has flowered, cut back hard (see blog:, then prune or tip periodically to ensure neat, compact growth. 

Medicinal Uses


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wants to know about the over all distribution and status of the plant,is it common in kerala?

Hi Nithya

The distribution of this species is limited in South Africa to the areas listed under the heading 'Distribution and Habitat' in the above text, although it may also be found in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. I am not sure what you mean by 'the status of the plant', but it is categorised by SANBI as being of Least Concern, meaning that is is commonly found and is not under threat, within its distribution area.

As you can see, this plant is not indigenous to any area outside of Southern Africa, therefore would not be found in Kerala, other than as an alien plant.

The pink version is a hybrid.


Respected sir,i am from kerala.iam almost sure that i saw this plant in kerala,can you mail me a clear photograph of this plant,i just worked out this,some of the characters are :-thorn is present,purple colour flower,imbricate aestivation{petals},staminode is present,very smooth leaves.

Good day Nithya

For clearer pictures of this plant, please go to the first two pictures on the previous page: Barleria obtusa - blue, and enlarge them.

Unfortunately the picture you sent is very blurred but from what I can make out from the picture and your description I am able to draw your attention to the following differences between Barleria and the species in your photo.

The petals of Barleria are always rounded, never pointed as is evident from your photo.
Barleria has deeper blue colour in the throat.
Stamens clearly visible in Barleria, not staminode.
The leaves of Barleria are slightly furred, never smooth.
Most telling of all is that Barleria has no thorns.

I hope that this clarifies the matter.

Kind regards

thank you sir for your valuable time that spend to clear my doubts...

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