Sanchezia speciosa: Shrubby whitevein

Family: Acanthaceae
Common name: Shrubby whitevein, Gold vein plant, Zebra plant, Yellow Sanchezia

The name suits this beautiful plant really well, it is shrubby and it has white veins forming unique patterns on its leaves. Shrubby whiteveins grow to a height of 3-6 feet with green or purple soft stems, that are woody towards the base.

They have broad, green, elliptical leaves, about 1 foot long, having distinct venation in white, ivory or yellow colors. Older leaves tend to be almost fully yellow with no distinct patterns They also produce bunches of yellow, orange or red flowers with prominent red or orange bracts.

The flowers are tubular with a long corolla tube and small petals at the tip that are folded outwards. Stamens and style projecting from the flower, makes it look like a beautiful flower vase.

Shrubby whitevein flowers are borne on tall spikes in bunches of 8-10 and are short-lived. The plant also produces capsular fruits containing 6-8 small seeds, though it is not very common.

The flowers and fruits are produced for a very short time period in summer. Hence they are grown as ornamental plants mostly for their beautiful foliage and not for the flowers. The large, patterned leaves can give your garden a tropical feel.

These plants are a native of Peru and Ecuador, but are now preferred garden plants all over the world because of their beautiful foliage. In the wild, they are seen as undergrowth on the forest floor where they get filtered sunlight because of the trees above them.

Shrubby whiteveins can stand partial shade, but they cannot grow in complete shade. Leaf colors are brightest in full sunlight, the yellow veins forming beautiful patterns. The plant need good moisture and fertilization to thrive. Occasional misting of leaves is also helpful in maintaining high humidity.

They make good centerpieces or border plants, and can also be planted along rock gardens or small waterbodies. The flowers attract birds, bees and insects that help in pollinating other plants as well. With moist well-drained soil and very little maintenance, Shrubby whitevein plants can thrive in your garden. The leaves are said to have some antibiotic and anti-bacterial properties, though they do not have any significant medicinal uses.

Propagation is mainly through stem cuttings and seeds, though seed formation is quite rare.

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