Genus: Melastoma Common Name: Lasiandra Family: Melastomataceae Appearance: Shrubs and small trees with deep green leaves, usually hairy, with three distinctive veins running through the leaf, fruit is a berry (This distinguishes Melastoma from Tibouchina or true Lasiandra, which has capsule fruits). Flowers: Terminal spikes of mainly purple, white or pink flowers.

Features: Grown for the attractive flowers.

Requirements: Open fertile soils preferred. Tropical and subtropical conditions preferred. Sometimes grown under glass in cooler areas. Full sun best.

Culture: Fertiliser helps to improve flowering. Water well in hot weather. Light pruning after flowering reshapes plant as desired.

Pest & Disease: Scale, mealy bugs, but generally pest free.

Species & Varieties:

Approximately 70 species, including:

M. affine (Blue Tongue) -Bushy shrub to 1m with mauve flowers over many months and edible blue-black berries. Three distinctive veins with two minor veins on the outer edges.

M. candidum -A shrub to 4m tall, with cylindrical branches covered in brown scales. Oblong leaves to 13cm long with 7 main nerves. Fragrant, showy, white or reddish flowers to 8cm across.

M. malabathricum (Pink lasiandra) -Hardy shade loving plants from tropical countries. Growing to 1.5m tall, with single pink-mauve flowers throughout summer. Broad lanceolate leaves with 3-5 nerves. Quick growing. Edible red pulpy fruit. Also known as M. denticulatum.

M. sanguineum -Variable shrub (1-6m) with large lanceolate leaves showing 5 depressed veins. Purple flowers.

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