They are flowering herbaceous plants, subshrubs, or small shrubs growing to 0.3–1 m tall. The leaves are spirally arranged, simple, 1–9 cm long, usually with a hairy margin. Some of the species are evergreen, others deciduous. The flowers are produced in a compact inflorescence, each flower with a five-lobed corolla; flower colour varies from pale to dark blue to red-purple. The fruit is a small bristly capsule containing a single seed.
Ceratostigma willmottianum shown here is a species of flowering plant native to western China and Tibet. It is an ornamental deciduous shrub that grows to 1 metre in height, with pale blue plumbago-like flowers appearing in autumn as the leaves start to turn red.
Ceratostigma is derived from Greek, meaning 'horned stigma’. This is in reference to the ‘shape of the stigmatic surface’. Willmottianum was named for Miss Ellen Ann Willmott (1858-1934), a keen gardener and plant introducer from Warley Place, Essex.
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