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Ruellia humilis (Prairie petunia)
Smith, R.W.

Ruellia humilis

Ruellia humilis Nutt.

Prairie Petunia, Fringeleaf Wild Petunia, Hairy Ruellia, Low Wild Petunia, Low Ruellia, Fringeleaf Ruellia, Fringe-leaf Wild Petunia

Acanthaceae (Acanthus Family)

Synonym(s): Ruellia ciliosa var. longiflora, Ruellia humilis var. calvescens, Ruellia humilis var. depauperata, Ruellia humilis var. expansa, Ruellia humilis var. frondosa, Ruellia humilis var. longiflora


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Fringe-leaf Wild Petunia’s multi-branched stem may reach a height of 2 ft. but is usually less than a foot tall. The short internodes give the plant a compact, leafy, bushy appearance. Its showy flowers are petunia shaped and vary in color from lavender to purple.


From the Image Gallery

30 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Ovate
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Leaf Pubescence: Hirsute
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Apex: Acute
Leaf Base: Truncate
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Erect or rarely decumbent. Up to about 2 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Flower: Flowers 3-7 cm long.
Fruit: Capsule brownish to 15 mm.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AL , AR , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MD , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NE , OH , OK , PA , TN , TX , VA , WI , WV
Native Distribution: PA to WI & e. KS, s. to w. NC, AL & TX
Native Habitat: Woodlands' edge, Opening, Thickets

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Conditions Comments: Growth habit is upright to somewhat sprawling. Wonderful addition to a wildflower planting. Blooms in the heat of summer if given a little extra water. Reseeds readily. Larval food plant for the Buckeye and several other butterfly species.


Use Ornamental: Perennial garden, Blooms ornamental
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Buckeye
Nectar Source: yes


Propagation Material: Root Division
Description: Stem cutting taken in June or July and treated with hormone give the best results. Hold the rooted cuttings in a cold frame until spring. Seeds are produced in abundance but germination is low.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Maintain moist soil, Fertilize in spring with rose food

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Fredericksburg Nature Center - Fredericksburg, TX
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Pineywoods Native Plant Center - Nacogdoches, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 766 - Dale Groom's Texas Gardening Guide (2002) Groom, D.
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 281 - Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas (1999) Diggs, G. M.; B. L. Lipscomb; B. O'Kennon; W. F...
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Ruellia humilis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Ruellia humilis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Ruellia humilis


Record Modified: 2023-02-24
Research By: NPIS, JSC

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