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Products > Suessenguthia multisetosa
Suessenguthia multisetosa - Bolivian Violet
Image of Suessenguthia multisetosa
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tropical
Family: Acanthaceae (Acanthus¹)
Origin: Bolivia (South America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Pink
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Synonyms: [Ruellia multisetosa]
Height: 6-10 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Cool Sun/Light Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): High Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30° F
Suessenguthia multisetosa (Bolivian Violet) - A large evergreen sprawling shrub that can grow to 10 feet tall or more with support but can be maintained as a 4- to 5-foot-tall shrub. It has stout erect basil stems holding more flexible narrower stems that bend downward to the ground, where they often root. These stems bear large (5 to 10 inch long) dark green elliptical leaves that have serrated edges, a long abruptly acuminate tip and are a bronze color when first emerging when growing in a sunny location. In spring and early summer appear the extremely showy 2-inch wide by 3-inch-long funnel shaped (infundibiliform) bright purplish pink flowers borne in branched clusters (thyrse) with bracts and calyces having long golden hairs.

Plant in full coastal, part sun or bright light shade in a well-drained soil and irrigate pretty regularly - plants will show obvious wilting if not adequately watered. Hardy to short duration temperatures down to 27 to 28° F but can respond rapidly if knocked down by longer duration freezes or slightly lower temperatures. An attractive and unusual plant that makes a great large background shrub in an irrigated location of the garden or used as a larger container plant. The large leaves serve to lend a tropical look to a landscape even when the plant when the plant is not in bloom and when in bloom can be stunning.

Suessenguthia multisetosa grows naturally in seasonally dry tropical forests and savannas of the Chiquitania region of eastern Bolivian into the wetter Yungas regions in the Andean foothills of central Bolivia. It was originally collected in the Sud Yungas Province of Bolivia in 1921 by the American botanist Orland E. White and described as Ruellia multisetosain 1927 by the New York Botanical Garden botanist Henry Hurd Rusby, who was the director of the Mulford Biological Exploration of the Amazon Basin. It was reclassified as Suessenguthia multisetosa in 1998 by German born American botanist and Acanthaceae family specialist Dieter Carl Wasshausen in La Revista de la Sociedad Boliviana de Botánica.

The name for the genus honors the German botanist Karl Suessenguth (1893-1955) and the specific epithet combines the Latin words 'multus' meaning ,many, "much" or "numerous" and 'setosus' meaning "bristly" or "shaggy", referring to the hairy bracts and lobes of the calyx. We thank Glen Williams for sharing with us in 2019 this unusual and attractive plant that he first purchased at a sale at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (now California Botanic Garden in 2013. 

This information about Suessenguthia multisetosa displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.