Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Ruellia tuberosa L.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
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Herbarium specimen. © CSIRO

Linnaeus, C. (1753) Species Plantarum Edn. 1, 2: 634. Type: Habitat in Jamaica.

Common name

Spearpod; Minnieroot


Herb 40-60 cm tall. Stems clothed in hairs and longitudinally ridged.


Petioles 5-7 mm long. Leaf blades 30-60 x 15-25 mm, with numerous cigar-shaped cystoliths or glands visible on both surfaces of the leaf blade; lateral veins 6-8 on each side of the midrib.


Two types of flowers produced, i.e. normal flowers and small cleistogamous flowers. Calyx about 15-25 mm long, the lobes linear and clothed in hairs. Corollas in normal flowers consist of a tube about 22-40 mm long and lobes about 10-18 mm long, while in cleistogammous flowers the corolla lobes are only 4-6 mm long. Staminal filaments dimorphic, about 4.3 or 8.5 mm long. Styles in normal flowers about 21 mm long.


Fruits cigar-shaped, calyx persistent at the base, about 18-20 x 3 mm, exploding at maturity. Seeds about 24 per fruit. Each seed about 18-22 x 2-2.5 mm, clothed in hairs.


Cotyledons orbicular, about 8 x 8 - 11 x11 mm, petioles longer than the cotyledons. Stem above the cotyledons clothed in a few erect white hairs. At the tenth leaf stage: tap root swollen, somewhat tuberous, stems clothed in hairs about 1-2 mm long. Seed germination time 7 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ and in CEQ. Grows in vine thickets.

RFK Code
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