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.

Porphyrocoma lanceolata Hook.

Frost tender, erect, evergreen herb or sub-shrub with lance-shaped leaves and a large, cone-shaped, terminal spike of violet-purple flowers, with large, overlapping bracts, in spring.  [RHSD].

Horticultural & Botanical History

Published as Porphyrocoma lanceolata Hook. in 1845 [BM t.4176/1845].

‘For the possession of this truly charming plant we are indebted to Mr. Forkel, Gardener to His Majesty the King of the Belgians, at Brussels, who sent it to us under the above name; but unfortunately without any history, so as to leave us in the dark as to its native country, or the author of its very appropriate name, ([Greek for] purple, and head of hair), given in allusion to the singularly richly coloured spikes of deep purple, from within the scales of which the scarcely less brightly coloured (but more inclining to blue) flowers appear.  It was exhibited in the Horticultural Society’s Rooms, and excited admiration from the beauty of the blossoms which consist in the dark purple comb-like parts half covering the Lamium-like violet flowers.  It is a stove plant, and continues flowering during the spring and summer months.’  [BM t.4176/1845].

‘Spikes of purple, from within the scale of which the scarcely less brightly-coloured (but more inclined to blue) flowers appear.’ [Gard. Chron. 1845].  Introduced to Britain in 1845.  [JD].

History at Camden Park

Listed only in the 1857 catalogue [T.777/1857].


V. A. W. Graham proposed the new combination of Justicia scheidweileri in 1988, synonym Porphyrocoma lanceolata Hort. ex Lindau (1895) [Kew Bulletin 43(4): 617/1988]. I have not seen Graham’s paper and have retained the name Porphyrocoma lanceolata at least for present.

Published Feb 22, 2010 - 03:45 PM | Last updated May 01, 2011 - 10:34 AM

Figured are lance-shaped leaves and dens spikes of bright red flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine BM t.4176, 1845.

Porphyrocoma lanceolata Hook. | BM t.4176/1845 | BHL

Family Acanthaceae
Region of origin

South America

  • Amphiscopia pohliana Nees
  • Dianthera pohliana (Nees) N.E.Br. 
Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Porphyrocoma Lanceolata 

Confidence level high