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Stromanthe sanguinea Sond. ‘Triostar’ 1849
pronounced: strow-MAN-thee san-GWIN-ee-uh
synonym: Stromanthe thalia (Vell.) J.M.A.Braga 1995
pronounced: strow-MAN-thee THAR-l-ee-uh
(Marantaceae — the arrowroot family)
common names: Stromanthe ‘Triostar” (‘Tristar’, ‘Tricolor’), Variegated Bloody Stromanthe.
There is some doubt as to the correct name for this plant. Kew gives the synonym, but just about everybody else, including nurserymen, uses sanguinea. Stromanthe is derived from two Greek words, στρωμα (stroma), a bed and ανθος (anthos), a flower; sanguinea is from the Latin sanguineus, blood-red. In the synonym, thalia is more difficult; there are three possibilities for it:
• from the Greek θαλεια (thaleia), flourishing, blooming;
• for the Greek muse of comedy; or
• for Johann Thal, 16th century German naturalist
Stromanthe sanguinea has thick, glossy, oblong leaves with entire margins. In the parent plant, they are dark green on top and purple underneath, but in ‘Triostar’ the leaves have irregular variegations on their upper surface, of green, pink and cream. Their lower surface may be either a solid pink to burgundy, or maroon with pink variegation. The petioles are also pink or burgundy.
This is mainly used as a house plant. It is possible to grow it outside in tropical gardens, but it should be used for underplanting, kept out of direct sunlight, and kept moist.
The parent plant has short, creeping stems that can grow up to 150 cm or so tall under ideal conditions, but this cultivar remains much shorted, generally 45 – 75 cm, especially when grown in a container. In its earlier days, it makes a good coffee-table plant, but it often grows tall enough later to become a floor plant.
The leaves, 15 – 30 cm long, are borne on long petioles from the crown of the plant. Each leaf has a pulvinus for orienting the blade towards or away from the sun. The leaves fold up at night, making the purple undersides more noticeable. By morning they face to the east to pick up the sun, but by midday they move to a more upright position so that less of the blade faces the sun.
When this is grown as a house plant, it rarely flowers. In its native habitat, and sometimes in greenhouses, panicles of white or pink flowers, with red bracts, in pendant clusters, are produced in winter and spring.
Photographed in Picnic Bay 2014
Page last updated 14th September 2018