Rotheca myricoides (Blue Butterfly Bush)

Rotheca myricoides (Blue Butterfly Bush)Rotheca myricoides (Blue Butterfly Bush) Aka Butterfly Clerodendron, Blue Glory Bower, Butterfly Bush, Blue Wings, Mudas De Clerodendro, Flor de Mariposa, Flor-borboleta, Borboleta-azul, Clerodendro-africano, Clerodendro-azul, or Lagrimas de la Virgen,  is a species of flowering plant in the Lamiaceae family. Rotheca myricoides is native to tropical East Africa and is cultivated as an ornamental throughout the tropics and widely cultivated elsewhere. It is a tropical evergreen shrub that grows as a deciduous shrub or herbaceous perennial in zone 9. It grows to 6 feet tall or more. Blue flowers are produced throughout the summer. At zone 8B they begin flowering from late June until first frost. They can take a harsh pruning which can result in another round of more vigorous flowering. Also reliable for zone 9a and south. It is best to be treated as a summer annual in temperate zones. In P.R. it only grows in the mountains. I took this image in southern Florida. It is hardy at USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F), USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F), USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F), USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F), USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F).

The entire shrub is poisonous. The word “myrycoides” stems from from Middle French myriade and directly from Late Latin myrias (genitive myriadis) “ten thousand,” from Greek myrias (genitive myriados) “a number of ten thousand, countless numbers.” “Coides” stems from Latinized form of Greek -oeides, from eidos “form,” related to idein “to see,” eidenai “to know;” literally “to see,”, which relates to its prolific blooming. “Rotheca” was named by Rafinesque in 1838. The name is a Latinization of a Malayalam name meaning “small teak” (from the woody body shrub appearance’) 

Rotheca myricoides was thought to belong to the Clerodendrum genus, from Greek ‘kleros’, meaning “fate” or “chance”, and ‘dendrum, meaning “tree”, the whole word meaning “tree of fate”. Nevertheless, In the 20th century, Rotheca was rarely recognized as separate from Clerodendrum. Rotheca was revived in 1998 as a result of phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequences. It can easily be distinguished from Clerodendrum by a combination of morphological characters. Now it belongs to the Lamiaceae family.


Rotheca myricoides  Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, vol. 135 [ser. 4, vol. 5]: t. 8235 (1909) [M. Smith]




48 thoughts on “Rotheca myricoides (Blue Butterfly Bush)

    • Thanks Amy, yes, this exotic shrub apparently is a very popular ornamental, but not here in P.R.. It naturalized here, but at higher altitudes where I couldn’t find it. I found this one in FL.


    • Thanks Geoff, this what I find fascinating, precisely which “morphological features” (according to the article) did they find, when they say “from phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequences. It can easily be distinguished from Clerodendrum by a combination of morphological characters”, now I’m eager to investigate which “morphological” features are those. I will let you know what I find. The “Rotheca” epithet is indeed confusing.


    • All that I’ve been able to find out is that “the original family name is “Labiateae”, so given because the flowers typically have petals fused into an upper lip and a lower lip. Most botanists now use the name “Lamiaceae” in referring to this family”. These include many of the flowers in the “mint” family, such as “Spearmint or spear mint (Mentha spicata) are from the Lamiaceae family. Unfortunately, I have only one or two images from this family.


  1. I stared and I stared at this image just wowing all over the place. Maria, there is just SO much in this picture and that ant is totally exceptional the way you captured him. The stamen, the way you highlighted them, just outstanding. The coloring, the texture, the frame, all A+ from me! Just wow! (((HUGS))) Amy


  2. Such a gorgeous flower and such beautiful colours and you even captured a cute little ant on it. Stunning shot and post Maria. Such interesting info. 😀 ♥


  3. Una flor desconocida para mi. Preciosa. Me encanta cómo mimas la fotografía y las explicaciones. Felicidades. Muchas gracias por tu comentario y por leerme María. Te lo agradezco mucho. Un fuerte abrazo.


  4. WOW! now this is stunning.. I don’t think I have ever seen such a beautiful plant such as this.. And so can see why it got its name.. And it grows to an amazing Height.. must be a wonderful sight for real..
    Many thanks for sharing… Wonderful.. xxx Much love and Hugs your way xxx ❤ Sue


    • Thanks Carol, it’s one of nature’s paradoxes I would suppose. Scientifically speaking though Carol, these are actually defense mechanisms the plants have, not to poison humans, not at all, but to avoid certain insects and animals that may prey on them.


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