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Coleus scutellarioides


Coleus scutellarioides (L.) Benth.

Family Name: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Synonyms: Coleus verschaffeltii, Ocimum scutellarioides, Plectranthus scutellarioides
Common Name: Painted Nettle, Flame Nettle, Common Coleus, 五彩苏, 洋紫蘇


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Annual, Perennial, Semi-Annual / Annual-Like
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Shrubby
Maximum Height 0.5 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 0.5 m


Native Distribution China, Taiwan, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, northern & western Australia, Solomon Islands
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal, Temperate

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a bushy and compact herbaceous shrub which can grow up to 1 m tall. 
Foliage Leaves of various colours in attractive patterns, with coarsely crenate margins. 
Stems Herbaceous shrub, turns to semi-woody at base when mature. Stems squarish in cross-section. 
Flowers Flowers blue-white, produced in erect spikes at top of plant. 
Fruit Fruits brown, single-seeded achene-like nutlets, very small, held in persistent calyxes of inflorescence.
Taxonomy Solenostemon scutellarioides and Coleus blumei are synonyms and former names for this plant. 
Cultivation Water regularly and do not let soil dry out. Propagate by seeds or stem cuttings. Plant is able to self-seed due to fallen nutlets. Perennial plant but normally grown as annual in Singapore. Plant tends to get leggy, sparse and less vigorous with age (especially after flowering). Tip-prune to promote bushy growth, and remove flower shoots as they appear.
Etymology The genus Plectranthus comes from Greek which means spur-shaped flowers. The specific epithet scutellarioides means small dish or sauce, in reference to the shape of persistent calyx after flowers fade. 

Landscaping Features

Landscaping Easy to grow and fast-growing foliage plant, it is popularized during Victorian times for its showy multi-coloured leaves. It is suitable for growing in container planting, flowerbeds, and houseplants. It is also suitable for mass planting in a landscape. 
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Foliage
Landscape Uses General, Flowerbed / Border, Container Planting

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic (Gravity)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Rootzone Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Easy to Grow
Pruning Pinch the plant tips to keep the plant compact and bushy. Remove the flower spikes as they appear.
Fertilizing Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer to promote leaf production. 
Potential Problems No serious insect problems but watch for whiteflies or mealybugs if grow indoors. 
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting
Maintenance Requirements Remarks Plant tends to get leggy and less vigorous with age. Normally used as annual-like plant in Singapore.


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Cream / Off-White, Green, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Yellow / Golden
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Velvety / Furry / Tomentose
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Crenate
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Typical Foliar Area Notophyll ( 20.25cm2 - 45 cm2 ), Mesophyll ( 45cm2 - 182.25 cm2 )

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Herbaceous
Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Blue, White
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Flower Symmetry Bilateral
Individual Flower Shape Labiate / Lipped
Inflorescence Type Raceme
Flowering Period Free-Flowering

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Indehiscent Dry Fruit , Nut / Nutlet

Image Repository



Master ID 1167
Species ID 2460
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 23 February 2022.