Caricature Plant (Graptophyllum pictum)
If you’re looking for a colorful variegated shrub, you would do well to consider the Caricature Plant. Native to southeast Asia, most likely New Guinea, the plant features glossy, variegated leaves which display a splash of pink/peach coloration in the center. Richard Lyons’ Nursery carries two foliar color forms, one with a green background and one with a brownish background. The plants produce red or red-purple tubular flowers.
G. pictum will mature to a height of 6-9 ft. in our region. It can be made bushier by pinching out new growth, but the plant will flower more prolifically the less it is pruned. This species performs best in a moist, well-drained soil, particularly if organic matter is worked in. It prefers sunny to partly-shaded exposures.
The Caricature Plant is valued in the folk medicine of Indonesia, where it is used to treat a variety of problems, including rheumatism, urinary infections, constipation, dermatitis, and wounds. It also appears to have some promise in the broader medical community. One study confirmed that an extract from the leaves of the plant has anti-inflammatory properties, and another study found that a different extract appeared to alleviate symptoms of diabetes. Of course, as with a lot of desirable substances, too much can produce toxic effects.
Richard Lyons’ Nursery carries G. pictum in 3-gal. containers.