Justicia comata

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Justicia comata


Erect to spreading or decumbent (annual ?) perennial, often somewhat aquatic, herb to 1 m tall; often rooting at the lower nodes. Young stem subhexagonal to subquadrangular, ± grooved, glabrous or sparsely pubescent, trichomes spreading or retrorse and disposed in 2 lines. Petiole 0 to 20 mm long, glabrous or rather sparingly hirtellous; blade narrowly ovate to lanceolate, 2.5-6(-16) x 0.7-3.5(-4) cm, margin entire, acuminate at apex, attenuate to truncate to cordate-auriculate at base, both surfaces and margin glabrous to sparsely pubescent; primary vein and secondary veins (ca. 6 pairs) obscure. Inflorescence axillary and terminal slender or branched spikes, these fascicled or the lowermost disposed in peduncled umbels, peduncle to 7 cm long, spikes forming in aggregate or terminal panicle or sometimes a paniculate inflorescence involving the entire plant, panicles to 25 cm long and 12 cm wide at base, branches of inflorescence in whorls of 3-7, very slender and almost filiform, to 4 mm long, ± angular, minutely to densely hirtellous, often with longer, gland-tipped trichomes intermixed, flowers secund, 1 per axil of bract; bracts subtending flowers subulate to triangular-subulate, 0.8-2.2(-5) x 0.3-0.5 mm, sharply acute, glabrous, strongly costate; bracteoles subulate to triangular-subulate, 0.7-3 x 0.2-0.5 mm, glabrous or sparingly hirtellous. Flowers sessile; calyx 5-lobed, 1.5-4 mm long, lobes narrowly lanceolate to subulate, equal, 1.2-3 x 0.3-0.5 mm, glabrous to minutely hirtellous; corolla white, lilac, light blue, purplish-white, often with maroon markings or nectar guides on lower lip, 3-7 mm long, glabrous or upper part of tube sparsely pubescent, tube cylindric, 1-2 mm long, 0.8-1.4 mm in diam., upper lip erect, ovate, 2-3 x 1-1.25 mm, emarginate, lobes 0.1 mm long, lower lip spreading, triangular, 1.8-4 x 3 mm, lobes ovate, 0.5-1.2 x 0.4-1 mm; stamens exserted ca. 2 mm beyond mouth of corolla tube, filaments glabrous, anthers purple, thecae 0.3-0.5 mm long, unequal, subparallel to perpendicular, unequally inserted or superposed, glabrous; style exserted ca. 3 mm beyond mouth of corolla tube, glabrous, stigma subcapitate, 0.1 mm long, minutely bilobed and rounded. Capsule clavate, 3-5 x 2 x 1 mm, sparingly hirtellous or glabrate, stipe 1-1.7 mm long, body ovoid to subellipsoid to obovoid, 2-2.7 m long, often with medial constriction, retinacula ca. 0.75 mm long, narrowly cucullate; seeds 4, lenticular, reddish brown, 0.9-1.3 x 0.9-1.2 mm, surface covered with knoblike papillae, margin fringed, minutely papillose.


Guianas present, Southern America, northern Argentina present, southern Mexico present, tropical America present
Widely distributed throughout tropical America; ranging from southern Mexico and the West Indies, southward to northern Argentina; 453 collections studied of which 21 from the Guianas (GU: 7; SU: 9; FG: 5).

Common Name

English (Suriname): yaladu


Flowering and fruiting .


As is to be expected of a species of such an extensive range, considerable variation in corolla color, pubescence of inflorescence and leaf blades shape and size is exhibited. Plants in wet situations, especially those growing in water, tend to produce long narrow leaf blades gradually narrowed to a subsessile base.