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Baleria cristata Phillipine Violet1

Edward F. Gilman and Linda Landrum 2


The Philippine violet is an herbaceous perennial that attains a height of 36 to 48 inches (Fig. 1). Leaf tissue is puckered around the veins which appear recessed. The plant remains dense in the full sun creating a nice barrier planting. The dark green foliage is medium in texture and becomes hard and "prickly" after freezing weather. White or lavender flowers appear on this plant in the late summer and early fall.

Figure 1. Phillipine Violet.
Figure 1.  Phillipine Violet.

General Information

Scientific name: Barleria cristata
Pronunciation: bar-LEER-ee-uh kriss-STAY-tuh
Common name(s): Phillipine violet, bluebell barleria, barleria
Family: Acanthaceae
Plant type: perennial; herbaceous
USDA hardiness zones: 9 through 11 (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: superior hedge; foundation; border
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant
Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 4 to 6 feet
Spread: 3 to 4 feet
Plant habit: upright
Plant density: dense
Growth rate: fast
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: bowed; pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: pink; white
Flower characteristic: summer flowering; fall flowering


Fruit shape: no fruit
Fruit length: no fruit
Fruit cover: no fruit
Fruit color: not applicable
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not particularly showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: green
Current year stem/twig thickness: thin


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: acidic; slightly alkaline; sand; loam; clay;
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: may self-seed each year
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

The Philippine violet is a good background or specimen plant but also looks nice when massed. It can be used for a hedge or border planting to create a wall effect in a garden or landscape. It will stay small enough for use along a house foundation provided they are not placed in front of a low window. Plants in the northern part of its range will be killed to the ground in freezing temperatures. Cut them back to clean the plant of dead foliage and stems. New growth emerges in the spring from the base of the stems.

Place Barleria cristata in an area of the landscape that receives full sun or partial shade. This plant prefers welldrained soils and is drought tolerant. Prune the Philippine violet to the ground each spring to maintain a bushy plant. Wear gloves when cleaning up this plant in the spring; the leaves become coarse after freezing and could irritate exposed skin.

Barleria cristata is "weedy" and will readily reseed itself and can invade adjacent land. Seeds and cuttings may be used for its propagation.

Pests and Diseases

None of major concern.


1. This document is FPS60, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; and Linda Landrum, Extension agent, UF/IFAS Extension Volusia County, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #FPS60

Date: 4/30/2015

      Organism ID


      • Gail Hansen de Chapman