Dozen for Diana: Mussaenda

I want to add another plant to my “Dozen for Diana” — twelve plants, one per month, for an imaginary small garden for my climate and soil in Rwanda. Diana of Elephant’s Eye chose a tree this month, but I’m still learning about local trees, so I’m going to defer that choice until another month.

For now, I’m going to add a medium-sized (with some pruning) shrub: the Mussaenda. I found one in my real garden soon after we arrived and fell in love, but I didn’t know its name until tonight after some internet research.

I think my Mussaenda (with orange flowers and white bracts) is M. frondosa, a native to Indo-China and Malaysia, although there is a species native to West Africa, M. erythrophylla or Ashanti blood or red flag. This may actually be the shrub in our garden that I’ve been thinking is a poinsettia. I’m going to have to do a little more research on that tomorrow. [It is M. erythrophylla.]

Mussaendas are hardy to (U.S.) zones 9-11. They can reach heights from 3′ to 10′, and different species and cultivars can have bracts and flowers in orange, white, red, yellow, or pink. They need a moderate amount of water and sun.


Thanks to Fine Gardening magazine’s Garden Photo of the Day for featuring some of my cycad photos yesterday. Here are a few more:


Filed under African gardens, landscape, nature, plants, Rwandan gardens

8 responses to “Dozen for Diana: Mussaenda

  1. Your foliage sings out beautifully! The shrub has interesting pleated leaves. Do the grey lower surfaces sparkle when the wind blows? That is why I have Brachylaena, where I can see the leaves dance in the wind.

    • I’m going to have to go and look. We’re starting to get little rainy season storms now. The leaves remind me of the leaves of dogwoods (cornus), which are important trees/shrubs in the mid-Atlantic U.S.

  2. Love the curly cycads. Glossy leaved cycads are common in gardens here in Queensland, but I’ve never seen any quite like those!

  3. Pingback: Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day for March | enclos*ure

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  5. Never seen an orange moosanda! lovely.

  6. I dropped in to see Mussaenda frondosa, My neighbour grows one and it hangs gracefully into my garden. Thank you for the name.

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