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Gynura aurantiaca

(Purple Nettle)


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Common Names

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Common Names in English:

Purple Nettle, Purple Passion Vine, Purple Velvet Plant, Purple Velvetplant, Purple-Passionvine, Royal Velvetplant, Velvet Plant, Velvetplant


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Family Compositae

The largest family of flowering plants , the Compositae (Asteraceae), comprising about 1,100 genera and more than 20,000 species and characterized by many small flowers arranged in a head looking like a single flower and subtended by an involucre of bracts. A head may consist of both ray flowers and disk flowers, as in the sunflower, of disk flowers only, as in the burdock, or of ray flowers only, as in the dandelion.

Tribe Senecioneae

The Senecioneae are a tribe of closely related genera that can be recognized most readily by the nature of the pappus and the involucral bracts or phyllaries. The phyllaries are basically in one well developed, often partially or wholly connate series of equal length that closely envelope the head . Frequently there are a few, very much smaller and mostly randomly distributed, often necrotic-tipped bracts near the base of the main series. The pappus is of fine, soft, often pure white capillary hairs . Heads may be either discoid or radiate . -- Gerald Carr.

Genus Gynura

Perennials [subshrubs , vines ], 20-100[300+] cm (± velutinous or villous [hispid , puberulent , glabrous ], hairs often purplish). Stems usually 1, weakly erect , spreading , or clambering (branched). Leaves [basal and/or] cauline; alternate; petiolate (petiole bases sometimes expanded, weakly clasping ) or sessile; blades pinnately nerved, ovate or elliptic to rhombic [oblanceolate or lanceolate to linear ], margins [entire or subentire ] toothed [coarsely pinnate], faces velutinous to villous [glabrous, hispid, puberulent]. Heads discoid , usually in corymbiform or paniculiform arrays, sometimes borne singly. Calyculi of 3-8+ bractlets . Involucres cylindric to campanulate [urceolate ], [3-]8-12[-15+] mm diam. Phyllaries persistent , [8] ± 13 in (1-) 2+ series, erect (reflexed in fruit), distinct (margins interlocking), linear, subequal , margins scarious . Receptacles flat, foveolate (knobby in fruit), epaleate. Ray florets 0. Disc florets [20-]30-80+, bisexual , fertile ; corollas yellow or orange to brick-red [purplish, ochroleucous , or white], tubes longer than funnelform throats , lobes 5, erect or reflexed, deltate to lanceolate; style branches stigmatic in 2 lines , apices with (orange or reddish) ± filiform appendages (hispidulous , 1-2 mm). Cypselae ± columnar or prismatic , 5-10-angled or -ribbed, glabrous [hairy ]; pappi persistent or fragile, of 60-80+, white, smooth or barbellulate bristles . x = 10.

Species ca. 40: introduced ; tropical Asia, Africa (including Madagascar), sw Pacific Islands, Australia.

Some species of Gynura are important in the horticultural trade; abundant literature is accessible through gardening compendia.[1]

Physical Description

Species Gynura aurantiaca

Stems somewhat lax or clambering , branching, fleshy , conspicuously fuzzy-hairy (± velutinous to villous , crosswalls of hairs purplish). Leaves: petioles 0-3+ cm; blades 4-10(-15) × 2-5(-8) cm, margins raggedly toothed , faces ± velutinous to villous, hairs purplish. Heads 1-5. Calyculi: bractlets 3-6+ mm. Phyllaries 10-12+ mm, tips greenish or minutely darkened. Disc corollas yellow or orange to brick-red (drying purplish), 8-12+ mm; style-branch appendages orange, 1-2 mm. Cypselae glabrous ; pappi 10-12 mm. 2n = 20. [source]

Gynura aurantiaca is a tender pot-plant that is sometimes grown outdoors. It is marginally established in the flora , persisting as an escape from cultivation in southern Florida. It may be encountered elsewhere along the Gulf Coast. The orange, filiform appendages of the style branches are distinctive; the flowers are reported to be unpleasantly scented. [source]

Habit: Vine , Forb/herb

Flowers: Bloom Period: January, February, March, April, November, December. • Flower Color: orange


Size: 24-36" tall.


Shaded, damp sites; 0-50 m ; introduced [2].

Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 2,524 meters (0 to 8,281 feet).[3]


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Duration: Perennial


Culture: Space 15-18" apart.

Soil: Minimum pH: 5.6 • Maximum pH: 6.5

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade.

Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b. (map)


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Bijdr. Fl. Ned. Ind. • Cacalia aurantiaca Blume


Name Status: Accepted Name .

Comment: Data Providers: Caribbean Checklist , African Flowering Plants Database , SANBI, New Zealand Plant Name Database, Flora Malesiana, LCR Editor, Govaerts World Compositae Checklist A-G, IPNI, Tropicos, Colombia, Vietnam Flora. GCC LSID: urn

Last scrutiny: 13-Aug-09

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Gynura

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 5 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:

G. aurantiaca (Purple Nettle) · G. crepidioides (Redflower Ragleaf) · G. crepioides (Okinawan Spinach) · G. sarmentosa (Purple Passion Vine) · G. sarmentosa 'Variegata' (Purple Passion Vine)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 24, 2007:



  1. Theodore M. Barkley "Gynura". in Flora of North America Vol. 20 Page 540,542, 610. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
  2. "Gynura aurantiaca". in Flora of North America Vol. 20 Page 609,610. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
  3. Mean = 811.250 meters (2,661.581 feet), Standard Deviation = 1,134.310 based on 8 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
Last Revised: 2014-12-02