Ruellia caroliniensis

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Ruellia caroliniensis
Ruellia caroliniensis Gil.jpg
Photo taken by Gil Nelson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Scrophulariales
Family: Acanthaceae
Genus: Ruellia
Species: R. caroliniensis
Binomial name
Ruellia caroliniensis
(J.F. Gmel.) Steud.
RUEL CARO dist.jpg
Natural range of Ruellia caroliniensis from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Carolina wild petunia

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: Ruellia caroliniensis var. caroliniensis; R. caroliniensis var. typica; R. caroliniensis var. cheloniformis Fernald; R. caroliniensis var. dentata (Nees) Fernald; R. caroliniensis var. membranacea Fernald; R. caroliniensis var. nanella Fernald; R. caroliniensis var. salicina Fernald; R. caroliniensis var. semicalva Fernald; R. caroliniensis ssp. caroliniensis var. caroliniensis; R. parviflora (Nees) Britton


R. caroliniensis is a small perennial varying 31 to 52 centimeters tall with oval leaves 6.7 to 7.5 centimeters long. The bluish-purple flowers bloom in early spring until late summer with seed capsules 0.4 centimeters wide and 1.3 centimeters long with brown seeds enclosed. [1]

"Perennial herbs. Leaves opposite, acute or obtuse, entire or undulate, base cuneate to attenuate, sessile or petiolate. Flowers in dense glomerules or in open cymes. Calyx tube short, lobes 5, elongate; corolla blue or rarely pink, funnel form, with tube, open throat, and 5 subequal lobes; stamens 4, included, anther locules parallel; stigmas 2-cleft. Capsules brown or yellow brown, compressed, ellipsoid-obovoid; seeds several, brown or gray." [2]

"Pubescent perennial, 1-6 dm tall. Leaves ovate, lanceolate, or elliptic, to 1-cm long and 4.5 cm wide, pubescent or glabrate, petioles to 12 mm long. Flowers in sessile or subsessile glomerules at middle and upper nodes. Calyx lobes usually hirsute, linear-setaceous, 15-22 mm long, less than 2 mm wide; corolla 2.5-4.5 cm long, tube longer than throat, lobes 5-15 mm long; ovary pubescent. Capsules usually glabrous, 12-16 mm long, ca. 5 mm broad; seeds brown, 2-2.5 mm broad." [2]


R. caroliniensis is vulnerable to soil disturbances and is an indicator of native longleaf pine sites in southwestern Georgia. [3]



In the Coastal Plain in Florida and Georgia, R. caroliniensis can be found in the edges of wooded floodplains, mesic hardwood floodplains, drying sand of open woodlands, flatwoods, sandy alluvial banks, shallow marshes, and on bluffs along the Apalachicola River. [4] Soils include sandy loams, sand, and loamy sand. [4] Associated species include oak, hickory, dogwood, pine, juniper and magnolia. [4]


R. caroliniensis has been observed to flower from April to September with peak inflorescence in May.[4][5]

Seed dispersal

This species is thought to be dispersed by ants and/or explosive dehiscence. [6]

Fire ecology

It was observed resprouting one month after a fire in July of 1993.[7]

Conservation and management

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. Wilson, Sandra B. and P. Chris Wilson. 2004. Growth and Development of the Native Ruellia caroliniensis and Invasive Ruellia tweediana. HortScience 39:1015-1019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 656. Print.
  3. Kirkman, L.K., K.L. Coffey, R.J. Mitchell, and E.B. Moser. 2004. Ground Cover Recovery Patterns and Life-History Traits: Implications for Restoration Obstacles and Opportunities in a Species-Rich Savanna. Journal of Ecology 92:409-421
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: July 2015. Collectors: Lisa Keppner, Ed Keppner, Loran C. Anderson, R.K. Godfrey, Cecil R Slaughter, Jimmy Meeks, R. Komarek, R. A. Norris. States and Counties: Florida: Bay, Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Leon, Liberty, Marion, Okaloosa, Washington. Georgia: Grady. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  5. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 13 DEC 2016
  6. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.
  7. Pavon, M. L. 1995. Diversity and response of ground cover arthropod communities to different seasonal burns in longleaf pine forests. Tallahassee, Florida A&M University.