Justicia brandegeeana

Justicia brandegeeana.

Previously known as Beloperone guttata the Mexican shrimp plant is occasionally seen in gardens.
The bushy much-branched subshrubs are mostly around 1 m high but they can be nearly 2 m high and 1 m wide.
They will form clumps.
The thin stems have simple white hairs.

The simple leaves are opposite and decussate (adjacent pairs at right angles).
The petiole is 1 to 2 cm long and the blade up to 8 or 9 cm long by 3 or 4 cm wide.
The ovate to elliptic blade has a pointed tip and a wedge-shaped base.
Both surfaces are covered in simple hairs especially along the veins on the lower surface.

The terminal inflorescences are erect to pendulous spikes up to 30 cm long.
Along the rachis each flower is subtended by bracts that overlap the bracts of the flower above.
Flowers only last a few days but the bracts can remain for months.
Flowers open from the base of the spike upwards so the spike continues to grow.
There will usually be a few flowers at the end of the spike.

The bracts are just small ovate leaves around 2 to 3 cm long with a 1 mm petiole.
They have similar hairs as the stem and leaves.
Bracts are initially green but where exposed to the sun they become yellow, orange then red or reddish- brown.

There are 5 narrow white lanceolate sepals up to 5 mm long.
The edges and the slightly thickened midrib on the outer surface have simple hairs.

The base of the 5 petals are fused into a narrow tube up to 2 or 3 cm long.
At the top the tube splits into 2 lips.
The upper lip has 2 small close lobes and the lower lip has 3 more spreading ones.
The tube and lobes are white with purple spots on the lower lip.
There are simple hairs on the outer surface and a few in the throat.

The 2 stamens, around 2.5 to 3 cm long lie along the upper lip close to the style.
On each filament the purple thecae (pollen sacs) of the anthers are at different levels.
The thecae have hairs and a short basal appendage.
The sacs open via longitudinal slits to release white pollen.
There is a yellow nectary around the base of the ovary.

The flattened pale green ovary is 2 to 3 mm long.
The narrow sides have a row of short hairs down them.
The long white style extends past the anthers and the tip of the upper lip.
It lies in a groove formed by narrow flaps from the fused edges of the 2 lobes of the lip.
There are long white hairs along the style mostly in the lower half.

The fruit are 1 cm long ovate or oblong capsules with 2 to 4 smooth 3 mm long ovate seeds.

There are cultivars with pale green, green-yellow, bright yellow and bright red bracts and
    one with leaves with cream-blotches.
The similar golden shrimp plant Pachystachys lutea has longer lanceolate leaves and bright yellow bracts.