Family: Rubiaceae

Native to tropical Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands, this genus consists of around 100 species of evergreen shrubs and climbers. Though the flowers are insignificant, the large, leaf-like, often brightly coloured sepals make an attractive display against the green of the foliage. The fruit is a berry.


M. erythrophylla, .Ashanti blood, from tropical Africa, is a sprawling, evergreen shrub that is a climber in its habitat, where it grows to about 10 m (33 ft) tall. In cultivation it can be maintained as a shrub, 2-3 m (6-10 ft) high. The large, bright green, oval leaves are hairy underneath, and the yellow flowers, with large, scarlet sepals, appear in summer. There is also a dwarf form.

M. frondosa from India, is an erect shrub which grows to a height and breadth of about 3 m (10 ft). The yellow-orange, summer flowers are overshadowed by the large, white sepals. The pale green leaves are oval in shape.


Outside the tropics and subtropics, grow in a warm greenhouse in pots of soil-based potting compost. Provide good light, but shade plants from direct sun. Prune climbers in winter by cutting back the side shoots to within four buds of the main stems. Propagate from semi-ripe cuttings in summer, in a heated propagating case.


Zone 10 at least.

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