Previously known as Peristophe roxburghiana, this unusual plant from the Acanthaceae family is colloquially know as the magenta plant, and I received it as a cutting from a kind reader. It is native to south-eastern Asia from India to Sir Lanka, southern China, Indonesia and Taiwan. It is a rambling shrubby perennial that grows up to 1 m high. The two-lobed flowers are a most vibrant magenta hue, and are very striking. The shrub is covered in bloom for several months from winter to spring.
My specimen grows in a shaded position that is rather dry. The plant seems to take root where stems touch the soil, and this is a good way to propagate it. Coming from tropical climates, it is likely to be frost sensitive, like many Acanthaceae plants, though if grown under a tree canopy, this may protect it to some extent. This plant may suddenly wilt and drop dead without any warning: it's a good idea to keep some spare plants in case this happens. I hope to work out why this occurs, some day!
An extract of its leaves is used as a food dye in some Asian cuisines.