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Book cover - Common Weeds of New ZealandAn Illustrated Guide to
Common Weeds
of New Zealand


Plectranthus ciliatus


Reproduced from
Common Weeds of New Zealand
by Ian Popay, Paul Champion & Trevor James
ISBN 0 473 09760 5
by kind permission of the
New Zealand Plant Protection Society

Publication or other use of images or descriptive text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is obtained from the authors and publisher.
Appropriate acknowledgement of the publication Common Weeds of New Zealand must always be given.

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Plectranthus ciliatus - plectranthus

Trailing or straggling herb or shrub, with shining leaves, purple underneath. Flowers white, with purple dots inside the lower lip. Spreads vegetatively by runners. Commonly grown in houses and gardens.

  • Flowers Inflorescence raceme-like, up to 30 cm long, sometimes with short branches near the base. Corolla tube white, about 1 cm long, with two-lobed upper lip and purple dots inside the lower lip. Flowers Dec-Aug.
  • Fruit Dark brown nutlets about 1.5 mm in diameter.
  • Leaves In opposite pairs, shining, purple underneath, dotted with glands, hairy especially on veins, 5-12 cm long by 3.5-7 cm wide. Leaf stalks 20-35 mm long.
  • Stems Trailing or straggling, covered in purple hairs.
  • Roots Spreads vegetatively by runners.


Shady areas in and around forest margins, plantations and hedges.


Locally abundant in NI. In SI, only found around Karamea (Buller). Originally from eastern South Africa.


Originally introduced as a trailing pot plant, and still widely grown in gardens and houses. Listed on the National Pest Plant Accord (see Introduction for details).

Related and similar species

A close relative of plectranthus, Plectranthus ecklonii (blue spur flower), is widely grown in NZ, but is rarely found growing wild. It is also subject to Pest Plant Management Strategies in several regions of NZ. Details are available from individual regional councils or unitary authorities. Wood sage (Teucrium scorodonia) is another hairy, rhizomatous labiate found on forest margins, scrub and plantations, lacking purple-coloured foliage, flowers green with purple stamens on a terminal spike, scattered throughout, only common in northern SI.

Derivation of botanical name

Plectranthus (Gk.) = spurred flower; ciliatus (Lat.) = hairy.


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Web-notes: Weed Links

On this site

Reproduced from Common Weeds of New Zealand:

External Links

WeedbustersWeedbusters New Zealand
Weedbusters is a weeds awareness and education programme that aims to protect New Zealand's environment from the increasing weed problem.
A free tool to assist farmers and agricultural professionals in decision-making regarding weed and pest identification, biology, impact and management.
Weed keyNew Zealand Weeds Key
An interactive identification key to the weeds of New Zealand. Developed at Landcare Research.

New Zealand Plant Conservation Network naturalised plants
Search for information on more than 2500 naturalised and weedy plants.
NZ Plant Protection SocietyNew Zealand Plant Protection Society
Their main objective: "To pool and exchange information on the biology of weeds, invertebrate and vertebrate pests, pathogens and beneficial organisms and methods for modifying their effects."
Massey UniversityMassey University Weeds Database
A site providing information about New Zealand weeds and weed control. It has a series of pages showing pictures of New Zealand weeds, notes on identification and control. It also provides information on a university paper entitled Controlling Weeds.

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Last updated: March 1, 2021