Maranta leuconeura

Prayer Plant

Maranta leuconeura (tricolor)

Prayer Plant at the University of St. Thomas Photo by Kirsten Hunt

Prayer Plant at the University of St. Thomas
Photo by Kirsten Hunt

General: The Maranta leuconeura (tricolor) is an evergreen, herbaceous, perennial flowering plant from the Marantaceae family and is commonly called the Prayer plant. It is a low-growing plant that includes an underground rhizome. The Maranta leuconeura is not only unique in its vibrant leaf appearance, but it is also unique in respects to its leaf behavior.

Leaves: The leaves of the Maranta leuconeura (tricolor) are flat and oval-shaped (~5-7″ long and 3″ wide). The veins of the leaves have a striking red and white color, while the rest of the leaf is green. The undersides of the leaves can be a grayish or purplish green color. The Maranta leuconeura is commonly called the Prayer plant because of its unique leaf behavior. At night, the leaves of the plant bend and fold in pairs into an upright position that resembles hands praying. This action allows the plant to conserve moisture when it cannot collect light.

Leaf of Prayer Plant Photo by Kirsten Hunt

Leaf of Prayer Plant
Photo by Kirsten Hunt

Flowers: The Maranta leuconeura produces small, white and purple flowers when in grown in an environment with plenty of direct sunlight and humidity. The flowers extend from the stalks on the stems just above the foliage.

Prayer plant flower gardenblog.projo.com

Prayer plant flower
gardenblog.projo.com

Uses: Rosmarinic acid can be found in Maranta leuconeura which can be utilized as a an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety agent), so it is used in medicine to treat anxiety. The Maranta leuconeura plant is also utilized in landscapes and indoor gardens for ornamental purposes. In the tropics, the Maranta leuconeura provides good ground cover.

Range: The Maranta leuconeura is native to tropical Central and South America.

Interesting Facts: The Maranta genus is named after Bartolomeo Maranta, a 16th century physician and botanist from Italy. There are different variations of the Maranta leuconeura plant, including: Maranta leuconeura kerchoveana and Maranta leuconeura erythroneura.

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