Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

Hairy Tubetongue, JUSTICIA PILOSELLA, flowering

from the April 7, 2013 Newsletter issued from the Frio Canyon Nature Education Center in northern Uvalde County, southwestern Texas, on the southern border of the Edwards Plateau, USA

Just a few feet from the Rose Mallow, in the same shade beneath trees and surrounded by grass and weeds on a low cliff next to the Frio River, a three-inch-tall (8cm) wildflower with a single two-lipped, purple, inch-long (2.5cm) flower was blossoming, as shown above.

Below you can see a view of the flower from above, showing its long, hairy corolla tube:

Hairy Tubetongue, JUSTICIA PILOSELLA, view of flower from top showing tube

With that two-lipped corolla producing only two stamens, and the cluster of leaflike "bracts" at the flower's base, this flower reminded me of members of the Acanthus Family we've seen recently in the Yucatan. That helped me identify the pretty little thing as the Hairy Tubetongue, sometimes called Gregg's Tubetongue and even False Honeysuckle. It's JUSTICIA PILOSELLA, earlier placed in the genus Siphonoglossa, and truly it's a member of the big, mostly tropical Acanthus Family, the Acanthaceae.

Hairy Tubetongue is endemic just to southern Texas, a small part of southern New Mexico, and arid northeastern Mexico. Despite its limited distribution, however, some garden centers sell it as a wildflower that thrives in dry, shaded soil as well as in wetland gardens. It blooms during nearly all the warm months, from now into October.

With that flower shape it's easy to believe reports that Hairy Tubetongue attracts butterflies.