Barleria cristata: Crested Philippine violet

Family: Acanthaceae
Common name: Crested Philippine violet, Bluebell barleria, Philippine violet, Barleria

Crested Philippine violet is a beautiful and versatile plant that is commonly seen in tropical countries of Asia, including India, Malaysia, and the Philippines. It is a popular ornamental plant that is valued for its vibrant purple flowers and attractive foliage.

They grow as thick shrubs to a height of 1-1.5 meters. The glossy, green leaves that are ovate or elliptical in shape and grow up to 7 cm long. The plant produces striking, tubular-shaped flowers that are 2-3 cm long, appearing in thick clusters at the end of the branches.

Crested Philippine violet flowers come in a range of shades, from dark purple, light violet, or white. Blooming occurs during December, and continues throughout the summer season. Fruits are about 1.5 cm long containing small greyish-black seeds.

There are many related species that are similar, but with differently colored flowers. Barleria Cristata alba has white flowers, Barleria albostellata has light grey flowers, Barleria prionitis has yellow flowers, and Barleria cristata Lavender Lace has white flowers with beautiful purple stripes on them.

Crested Philippine violet plants are easy-to-grow and requires very little maintenance. It require full sun to partial shade for flowering and prefer well-drained soil.

It is best to plant them in the spring or early summer, as this will give the plant enough time to establish its roots before winter. Regular watering is necessary, especially during the summer season, but make sure not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot.

Fertilize the plant with a balanced fertilizer once every two weeks during the growing season to promote healthy growth and blooming. Regular pruning of spent flowerheads can help the plant grow thick and bushy.

These plant contains various chemical compounds such as flavonoids, alkaloids, and saponins that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. In traditional medicine, Crested Philippine violets have been used to treat various ailments such as fever, cough, respiratory problems, boils, swelling, skin infections, and even snake bites.

Barleria cristata is propagated through stem cuttings or seeds. To propagate the plant through stem cuttings, take a 6-8 inch long cutting from the tip of the stem and remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting. Dip the cutting in rooting hormone and plant it in a pot filled with well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist and place the pot in a bright, warm spot. The cutting will root in 2-3 weeks.

To propagate the plant through seeds, sow the seeds in a pot filled with well-draining soil and keep the soil moist. The seeds will germinate in 2-3 weeks.