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Synonyms: Hemigraphis traian (erroneous)
Hardiness: Moderate
Light Needs: High
Plant Structure: Stem
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Hyptis
Region: South America
Location: Widespread in South America
Size: Stem width: 10-12cm (4-5 inches)
Growth Rate: Fast
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


For almost as long as it's been in the hobby, Hyptis lorentziana has been known as a Hemigraphis. Recent flower evidence indicates that not only is it not a Hemigraphis (traian is a bogus species name), but it doesn't even belong to the family Acanthaceae. Instead, it is from the Lamiaceae, or mint family. Ranging from Venezuela to Uruguay and Argentina, it is much more common in the southern portion of its range, where it grows along the margins of ponds and other wet and regularly inundated places. Although it stays a manageable size in culture, it often grows to over six feet tall (about two meters) in its natural habitat, where its distinctive inflorescences attract many bees.

At present, this plant is not yet available from any retailer. While it is still quite rare in the hobby, there are a growing number of hobbyists around the world that keep it. In time, it will become more widely available.

Not overly picky about the conditions under which it grows, it needs strong lighting, the addition of ample co2 and a well rounded fertilization routine to show the strong purple colors shown in this text's accompanying photograph. Limiting nitrate levels to around ten to fifteen part per million will help accomplish that. Additionally, a phosphate level of 1-2ppm should be maintained. It has a medium to fast growth rate under those parameters.

To accomplish propagation, one should top the stem with sharp scissors just above a pair of leaves, leaving about 3-4 inches of stem planted in the substrate. This will encourage new sides shoots to form. As with any other stem plant the tops can then also be replanted to form new plants. Emersed culture is nearly trouble free and results in much faster - and often much larger - growth. The easiest way to obtain emersed stems with this plant is to simply let stems grow out of the water. When emersed stems are topped and replanted, the tops frequently respond with a small degree of wilting, from which they may take several days to recover. A spacious enclosure combined with no unnecessary trimming and elevated humidity help to mitigate that problem.

Due to its striking coloration, Hyptis lorentziana is best used as an accent plant in the backdrop of an aquascape. The large purple leaves make an excellent contrast to the many finer-leaved green plants that are available in the hobby.

Photo #1: Submersed US and International Copyright 2006 by Tim Gross All Rights Reserved.

Photo #2: Emersed US and International Copyright 2006 by Carlos Sanchez All Rights Reserved.

Photo #3: Inflorescence US and International Copyright 2009 by Kris Weinhold All Rights Reserved.