Blue Tongue: Melastoma affine

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This showy little shrub is Melastoma affine or Native Lasiandra, it really does look like a dwarf form of the incredibly popular south American Tibouchina, which lights up the streets of many inner western Sydney suburbs. However, this is not only an Australian native Lasiandra but is also a bush food.


After the flowers finish the brown scaly capsules burst open to expose the purplish black pulp (sorry no photos yet), the fruit is sometimes sweet sometimes bitter and stains the mouth blue, hence the common name of ‘Blue Tongue’.



These Melastoma are planted in my friends front garden on the south side of their house, and the ones that get, no sun at all are flowering their heads off. Theses plants come from Tropical Northern Australia, where they are found on creek margins, in swamps and near the coast in wetland conditions. They can get to about 2 metres high but realistically in a residential garden like this they are a smaller shrub.


In this garden my friend assures me he never gives them extra water and they are thriving! they would be lucky to have been in the ground a year at this point. I find they are a useful plant for when I am doing a blended garden,as they can be mixed in with exotics without creating a scene. Here they are growing happily alongside Ceratopetalum ‘Johannas Xmas’ and Indigofera australis.


6 responses to “Blue Tongue: Melastoma affine”

  1. Benjamin Biibat

    Can Blue Tongue be grown in the midwest
    Chicago to be exact? Will it winter indoors ?

    1. Patrick

      Hi Benjamin. Looking at the latitude, climate and temperature range of midwest Chicago, I doubt that you could grow Melastoma affine outdoors, except perhaps during the warmest months of the year e.g midsummer. Perhaps in a hothouse/glasshouse it could be grown. Indoors it would need bright light and high humidity, the latter not easily achievable indoors.

  2. Patrick

    Can you please tell us roughly whereabouts your friends house is? (suburb would be great but at least city please).

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Patrick,

      My friend is based in the Illawarra. Melastoma affine does well in our climate here

      All the best,

  3. Simon

    Did you grow your Melastoma affine from seed? If so is it difficult to propagate?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Simon,
      No I didn’t grow mine from seed, I would say it would be quite easy to propgate from cutting but have not tried. Let me know how you get on if you do.
      Kind Regards,

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