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Ruellia caroliniensis (Carolina wild petunia)
Holmes, James Garland

Ruellia caroliniensis

Ruellia caroliniensis (J.F. Gmel.) Steud.

Carolina Wild Petunia

Acanthaceae (Acanthus Family)


USDA Symbol: ruca4

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

An unbranched, 2-3 ft. perennial with crowded, opposite, oval leaves and flowers in unstalked, axillary clusters of 2-4. Usually only one or two of the light purple to pinkish flowers are open on any given day. The flowers have a slender corolla tube and five, petal-like lobes. Seeds are borne on hooked projections.

Among the seven other members of this genus occuring in the East, this one is recognized by the long-pointed calyx lobes and bracts under the flower. The flowers of Ruellia species recall garden petunias (genus Petunia) of the nightshade family (Solanaceae).


From the Image Gallery

21 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
Bloom Notes: Purple, lavender to pale pinkish.


USA: AL , AR , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MD , MS , NC , NJ , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV
Native Distribution: FL to NJ, w. to e. AR
Native Habitat: Sandy, upland, open woods

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Dry, sandy soils.
Conditions Comments: A number of varieties and forms occur throughout the eastern U.S.


Description: Seeds may be planted immediately after collection or stored and sown in spring. Germination is low. Seedlings should be given protection until the second year. Summer stem cuttings seem to root well.
Seed Collection: Capsules change from yellow to green to brown over a 2 month period following flowering. A mature capsule is smooth and 1/2 in. long. Be sure to monitor closely as capsules dehisce mature seeds. Store seeds dry in an airtight, refrigerated container.
Commercially Avail: yes

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:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Web Reference

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

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-02-24
Research By: TWC Staff

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