Asystasia intrusa is a common weed in Peninsular Malaysia. You can find them along roadsides, in rubbish dumps, vacant residential lands, wastelands and open areas along jungles. This one that I photographed is growing beside a drain in Ipoh. It looked like some people are growing it in flower pots for their own use?
It grows prolifically, has high shade tolerance and produces many seeds. Once established, it spreads rapidly. It can become extremely invasive and difficult to control or erradicate, hence it is regarded as a noxioius weed by orchards, oil palm and rubber plantation owners where chemical pesticides are needed to deal with the problem. It is a major problem here where it competes with the main crops for soil nutrients, affects yield and increases crop management costs.
This non-native plant was introduced to Malaysia, perhaps more than 90 years ago. Now it has become a naturalised weed in oil palm plantations, probably due to lack of control in the early years?
It is highly palatable to goats and cattle. When I showed this plant to a local nursery worker, asking whether they have the seedling, he laughed and exclaimed that it is 'rumput kambing' meaning goat grass which nobody wants to grow in their home gardens! Aha! Perhaps we can use goats and cattle grazing as a form of natural control for this intruder?
A website, ForestExplorers.com has recommended it as jungle survival plant. The leaves and shoots can be eaten as a vegetable in soups, e.g. cooked with instant noodles. However, please do not experiment eating those found in plantations and orchards as they may be covered with toxic weed killers.
Synonym: Asystasia intrusa, A. gangetica, A. coromandeliana
Common name: Common Asystasia, Chinese Violet, Creeping Foxglove, Ganges Primrose
Chinese name: 赤边樱草 or 十万错花
In mandarin, 赤边樱草 (chi bian ying cao) means 'violet margin cherry (sakura) grass' and
十万错花 (shi wan cuo hua) means 'a hundred thousand wrong flowers'.
Malay name: rumput Pengorak, rumput kambing (goat grass), bunga istana.
Family: Acanthaceae (Ruelia family)
Native to: India, Malay Peninsular, Africa
Category: Ever-flowering perennial creeper
meaning purple crane flower.
It is listed in the "Alert List for Environmental Weeds" of Australia.
“Asystasia intrusa - Wildflower or Noxious Weed?”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ http://www.mynicegarden.com/ on May 6th, 2011.
Under favourable conditions, this herbaceous plant can grow up to about 1m tall. The leaves which are paler in shade on the underside, are elliptical and rounded at the base. They are arranged in equal pairs opposite each other. Blooms are in the form of terminal inflorescences with numerous single bell-shaped flowers about 20-25mm (1") long. The flowers are creamy white with purple blotches in 2 parallel lines on the keel petal. The seed capsules are about 30mm long and club-shaped. They turn brown when ripe and explode, spreading the seeds everywhere.