Appearance: Mainly shrubs with one sepal enlarged and brightly coloured, usually more prominent than the flower.
Flowers: Attractive, colourful flower bracts, petals often insignificant.
Features: Attractive ornamental plants with colourful floral bracts.
Requirements: Most prefer rich, moist soil, but often give best displays of colourful bracts in poorer soils.
Most prefer tropical to sub-tropical conditions. Some have some cold tolerance but most very frost tender.
They tend to be deciduous where winters are cool. Most prefer full sun, but some are adaptable.
Culture: Light pruning can help keep them in shape.
Pest & Disease: Rarely a major problem; mites, mealy bug & grasshoppers occasionally
Species & Varieties:
Approximately 200 species, including:
M. arcuata -To 2.5m tall, lacks spectacular coloured sepals of most species, yellow flowers with brown centre.
M. erythrophylla -Many different cultivars of this shrub are available, some growing to over 10m, but most are shorter. They have spectacular large yellow, pink, red or cream sepals.
M. frondosa -To 1m tall, yellow sepals.
M. glabra -A climbing shrub with white sepals (bracts) up to 13cm long surround small yellow or orange flowers.
M. incana -An erect shrub to 1m with white bracts to 7cm long, greyish foliage, wiry growth, some consider it may be synonymous with M. frondosa.
M. luteola -A fast growing shrub to 2m tall with masses of yellow sepals (bracts) to 2.5mm long. Prefers a sunny position.
M. macrophylla -To 1.8m tall, orange sepals
M. Roxburghii - An erect shrub to 10m, with white sepals to 12cm long.
M. philippica -Large soft hairy leaves with prominent red veins on under surface, small rich yellow flowers contrast against white to cream flowers