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Hypsela reniformis - plant of the month August 2013




The genus Hypsela comprises four species of creeping perennial plants from Australasia and South America, Their botanical status seems to change on a fairly regular basis and may appear variously as species in their own right, with many synonms attached or conversly as a synonm in another genera. Current thinking places them in Campanulaceae: Lobelioideae (IPNI), closely allied to Pratia and Lobelia.

 Hypsela reniformis can be found from Ecuador to Tierra del Fuego, in moist, usually open places (at least in the south of its range) and was one of the species recorded and collected on Darwins 'voyage of the Beagle' in the 1830's.


A mat-forming species, to 20cm or more in diameter, its leaves are eliptical to broadly ovate or orbicular, somewhat folded upwards along the midrib, barely more than 1cm long - the specific name means 'kidney-shaped'. Ideal for areas that are fairly humus rich which does not dry out - alongside ponds, waterfalls and shaded areas of rock-work. Propagation is by simple division of the much rooting stems in Spring or by seed.





The flowers, although only 1-1.5 cm wide, are highly attractive ( hands and knees to appreciate!), with their whitish/pink background with purplish/red veining around a yellow throat appearing in mid to late Summer - on inspection its easy to see why some botanists sink this genus into Lobelia

Ray Drew