Gynura aurantiaca

Gynura aurantiaca

Sometimes known as purple velvet plant, Gynura aurantiaca is a shrubby perennial from the broad Asteraceae family. It has broad, velvety green leaves with a purple sheen created by a downy overlay of purple hairs. The plant comes originally from Java, in Indonesia, so it needs a frost-free position in shade or part-shade, with sufficient moisture. It will grow to 60 cm high and quite wide. It seems best to pinch out the tips of the plant regularly to keep it compact. Strange orange-red flowerheads, rather like a dandelion, are produced in winter; they are not really an attractive feature and I remove them. The plant grows easily from cuttings taken in spring or autumn. This plant can be grown indoors in a pot.

Gynura aurantiaca (foreground) with Strobilanthes dyeriana

I grow mine nearby Strobilanthes dyeriana, which has alluring purple shiny leaves. The combination thrills me every time I pass it, with the purple glow of the Gynura leaves looking for all the world (at least to me) as if they are catching a reflection of the hue of the Strobilanthes foliage!