Chrysothemis melittifolia

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  • Previous Name: Nautilocalyx melittifolius
  • Photographer: Leslie Brothers, copyright the Smithsonian Institution
  • Grown by: Smithsonian Institution greenhouses

Images copyright by the individual photographers or their institutions.

Chrysothemis melittifolia is an attractive plant with interesting hairy and bullate foliage and pretty pink flowers. It is widely distributed throughout the Caribbean islands and adjacent mainland locations, and is often a cultivated garden plant.

The feature photo above is the collection of C. melittifolia distributed by the Gesneriad Research Foundation with the descriptive name “St. Vincent”. The Smithsonian’s collection number is USBRG 1994-337.

Two cultivars of this species have long been distributed under the names Nautilocalyx sp. “Burle Marx” and Nautilocalyx sp. “Gothenburg”. Dr. John L. Clark (personal communication) has confirmed that these should be understood as cultivars of Chrysothemis melittifolia, and we treat them here in that way. The proper forms are C. melittifolia ‘Burle Marx’ and C. melittifolia ‘Gothenburg’.

Some of the cultivars of C. melittifolia have the unusual characteristic of causing a substantial and uncomfortable rash where they contact skin. The rash is said to be similar to that caused by poison ivy. C. melittifolia ‘Gothenburg’ is the worst offender, but other cultivars can also cause discomfort.

C. melittifolia is one of the parents of the hybrid Chrysothemis ‘Caribbean Pink’. An antique print of the species, as Besleria melittifolia, can be seen here.

Additional photos can be seen in a slideshow by clicking one of the links below: