Starburst Shrub (Clerodendrum quadriloculare (Variegated))


Orchid Haven, Cloud Forest

Clerodendrum quadriloculare (Variegated) Flower buds of a variegated Clerodendrum quadriloculare. Don't you think they resemble cotton buds?

A member of the mint family – Lamiaceae, this variegated cultivar of Clerodendrum quadriloculare is now in bloom! This plant boasts flowers that resemble showers of fireworks, which gives rise to its common name as the starburst shrub. Native to New Guinea and the Philippines, this plant is a small to medium-sized shrub, which can grow up to 5m tall. It can be found in undisturbed forests and forest edges. However, it is also found to be invasive in areas outside of its native range due to its ability to send out root suckers and large seed production capacity, displacing native plant species and forming dense single-species thickets on many Pacific Islands, including Hawaii, Micronesia, French Polynesia, Palau, and American and Western Samoa. 

Flowers of a non-variegated Clerodendron quadriloculare (Left) and close-up of the elongated tubular flowers. (Right) Flowers of a non-variegated Clerodendron quadriloculare (Left) and close-up of the elongated tubular flowers. (Right)

The plant we have in Cloud Forest is a variegated cultivar, with its leaves outlined in cream-colored patterns surrounding a dark green center, with a burgundy underside. Its showy flowers are in clusters, with coral-pink tubes and light pink to white petals, emerging on terminal, rounded, cymes (flat or domed flower clusters in which the central flowers open first), which can reach up to a diameter of up to 30 cm. Due to the elongated tubular corolla (fused petals) of the flowers which can be up to 7cm in length, specialist long-tongued visitors yet to be identified in the plant’s native range are attracted to sip the nectar at the base of the flowers and partake in the essential pollination process. 

Other than its visual appeal, did you know that Clerodendrum quadriloculare was also used for their medicinal properties? The indigenous group Ati, from the Philippines, used Clerodendrum quadriloculare (known to them as salin-uwak) to treat headache and skin allergies, whereby the leaves are used to apply on the forehead or affected areas. Come and have a look at the starburst shrub, as they are blooming now at Orchid Haven, in Cloud Forest! 

Written by: Ng Yu Qin, Horticulturist, Research and Horticulture

Yu Qin is always looking for ways to pick up new skills and put them to use. She spends most of her time with orchids and enjoys learning something new about them every day!

This article is part of our What's Blooming series.