Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Justicia carthaginensis Jacq.

Frost tender evergreen shrub with purple flowers.  To 50cm. ‘A native of the West Indies, whence it was introduced into this country a few years since.  The blossoms are very beautiful, and of a colour not to be imitated in brightness: they come out with us in the beginning of winter, which of course renders them the more welcome.  It is necessary to preserve it in the stove at all times: it increases freely by cuttings, which should be potted in loam, and in smallish pots, as it is not a very large plant.’  [LBC no.724/1823]    

Horticultural & Botanical History

First botanically described by Jacquin in 1760 [Jacquin ESP p.11/1760]. Described as Justicia retusa by Vahl in 1805 [Enumerato Plantarum – Vahl vol.1, p.136/1805].

‘Native of the Caribbee Islands; and introduced by Sir Joseph Banks in 1792.

According to Vahl, the species has an herbaceous stem: opposite branches, round at the lower part and smooth at the upper, obtusely four-cornered, and slightly villous. Leaves petioled, from two to three inches long, ovate, tapered to a point at the base, pointed, tender, nerved, nearly without apparent veins, with a few scattered hairs which are thicker on the midrib and nerves. Spikes terminating the branches, generally single, sometimes double, two inches long. Outer bractes scarcely a nail long; inner ones shorter, placed at the bottom of the calyx, cuneate, obtuse. Stigma obtuse. It is said to vary with ovately oblong and elliptically ovate; with the outer bractes roundish oblong or more truly oblong. The lower anther is membranously awned at the base.’ [BR f.797/1824].

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1850 and 1857 catalogues [T.610/1850].  Obtained from Loddiges’ Nursery, brought out from England by Captain P. P. King.  [ML A1980-3].  


Published Mar 27, 2009 - 04:43 PM | Last updated Apr 27, 2011 - 05:33 PM

Illustrated are the ovate, pointed leaves and purple flowers.  Loddiges' Botanical Cabinet no.724, 1823.

Justicia carthaginensis Jacq. as Justicia retusa | LBC no.724/1823 | RBGS

Family Acanthaceae
Region of origin

West Indies

  • Justicia sanctae-martae Lindau
  • Justicia retusa Vahl
  • Ecbolium retusum (Vahl) Kuntze
  • Dicliptera retusa (Vahl) Juss.
  • Amphiscopa retusa (Vahl) Nees
  • Ecbolium carthaginense (Jacq.) Kuntze
  • Adhatoda carthagenensis (Jacq.) Nees
Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Justicia retusa 

Confidence level high