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Ageratum houstonianum

Ageratum houstonianum, Photo: Michael Lahanas

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Campanulids
Ordo: Asterales

Familia: Asteraceae
Subfamilia: Asteroideae
Tribus: Eupatorieae
Subtribus: Ageratinae
Genus: Ageratum
Species: Ageratum houstonianum

Ageratum houstonianum Mill., 1768.


Ageratum conyzoides subsp. houstonianum (Mill.) M.Sharma, Geobios, New Rep. 3(2): 152. 1984.
Ageratum conyzoides var. houstonianum (Mill.) T.R.Sahu, Feddes Repert. 93(1-2): 64. 1982.
Ageratum houstonianum var. typicum B.L.Rob., Contr. Gray Herb. 68: 5. 1923.
Carelia houstoniana Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 1: 325. 1891.


Ageratum conyzoides var. mexicanum (Sims) DC., Prodr. (DC.) 5: 108. 1836.
Ageratum houstonianum f. isochroum B.L.Rob., Contr. Gray Herb. 68: 6. 1923.
Ageratum houstonianum f. isochroum (B.L.Rob.) M.F.Johnson, Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 58: 25. 1971.
Ageratum houstonianum f. luteum B.L.Rob., Contr. Gray Herb. 68: 6. 1923.
Ageratum houstonianum f. niveum B.L.Rob., Contr. Gray Herb. 68: 6. 1923.
Ageratum houstonianum f. normale B.L.Rob., Contr. Gray Herb. 68: 6. 1923.
Ageratum houstonianum f. versicolor B.L.Rob., Contr. Gray Herb. 68: 6. 1923.
Ageratum houstonianum var. angustatum B.L.Rob., Contr. Gray Herb. 68: 6. 1923.
Ageratum houstonianum var. muticescens B.L.Rob., Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts 51: 532. 1916.
Ageratum lasseauxii Carrière, Rev. Hort. 90. 1870-71.
Ageratum mexicanum Sims, Bot. Mag. 52: t. 2524. 1824.
Ageratum mexicanum f. lasseauxii (Carrière) Voss, Vilm. Blumengärtn., ed. 3. 1: 445. 1894.
Ageratum mexicanum var. majus Voss, Vilm. Blumengärtn., ed. 3. 1: 445. 1894.
Ageratum mexicanum var. wendlandii Voss, Vilm. Blumengärtn., ed. 3. 1: 445. 1894.
Alomia pinetorum L.O.Williams, Fieldiana, Bot. 31: 25. 1964.


Miller, P. 1768. Gard. dict. ed. 8: Ageratum no. 2.
USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database]. [1]
USDA, NRCS. 2006. The PLANTS Database, 6 March 2006 ( Data compiled from various sources by Mark W. Skinner. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

Vernacular names
English: Flossflower, Bluemink
suomi: Sinitähtönen
日本語: オオカッコウアザミ
한국어: 불로화
lietuvių: Meksikinis žydrūnis
Nederlands: Levensbalsem
polski: Żeniszek meksykańsk
русский: Агератум Гаустона
Türkçe: Vapurdumanı

Ageratum houstonianum, commonly known as flossflower, bluemink, blueweed, pussy foot or Mexican paintbrush, is a cool-season annual plant[2][3] often grown as bedding in gardens.[4]


This herbaceous annual or dwarf shrub grows to 0.3–1 m (1 ft 0 in – 3 ft 3 in) high, with ovate to triangular leaves 2–7 cm (0.79–2.76 in) long, and blue flowerheads (sometimes white, pink, or purple). The flower heads are borne in dense corymbs. The ray flowers are threadlike and fluff-haired, leading to the common name. The narrow lanceolate bracts are pointed, denticulate only at the top and glandular hairy. The flowering period is from May to November in the northern hemisphere.[5] The plant attracts butterflies.[6]
Pollens of Ageratum houstonianum

The plant is native to Central America in Guatemala and Belize, and adjacent parts of Mexico, but has become an invasive weed in other areas. It was also naturalized in large parts of the tropics and in the southern United States. Their habitat is pastures, moist forest clearings and bushes up to altitudes of 1,000 metres (3,300 ft).

Today, it is widely used as an ornamental plant for summer borders and balcony boxes, high varieties also as cut flowers. The species is cultivated once a year, having numerous varieties whose crowns may be dark blue, purple, pink and white. Preferring cool soils and exposure in full sun, high varieties reach stature heights up to 60 centimetres (24 in).[7][8]

Ageratum has evolved a unique method of protecting itself from insects: it produces a methoprene-like compound which interferes with the normal function of the corpus allatum, the organ responsible for secreting juvenile hormone during insect growth and development. This chemical triggers the next molting cycle to prematurely develop adult structures, and can render most insects sterile if ingested in large enough quantities. [9]

Ageratum houstonianum is toxic to grazing animals, causing liver lesions.[10][11] It contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids.[12]
Weed risk

Ageratum houstonianum is prone to becoming a rampant environmental weed when grown outside of its natural range. It has become an invasive weed in the United States, Australia, Europe, Africa, China, Japan, New Zealand, and the Philippines.[13]

Ageratum houstonianum var. angustatum B.L. Rob.[14]
Ageratum houstonianum f. isochroum
Ageratum houstonianum f. luteum
Ageratum houstonianum var. muticescens
Ageratum houstonianum f. niveum
Ageratum houstonianum f. normale
Ageratum houstonianum var. typicum
Ageratum houstonianum f. versicolor

The cultivars 'Blue Danube'[15] and 'Blue Horizon'[16] have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[17]

"Ageratum houstonianum Mill.". The Global Compositae Checklist (GCC) – via The Plant List.
"Ageratum houstonianum (Ageratum, Blue Billygoatweed, Bluemink, Floss Flower, Mexican Ageratum)". North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. NC State Ag Extension. Retrieved 2021-05-15.
"Ageratum houstonianum". Plant Finder. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2021-05-15.
Eckehart J. Jäger, Friedrich Ebel, Peter Hanelt, Gerd K. Müller (ed.): Rothmaler - excursion flora of Germany. Volume 5: Herbaceous ornamental and useful plants . Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-8274-0918-8 , p. 553 .
New South Wales Flora Online, Ageratum houstonianum
"Ageratum houstonianum - Plant Finder". Retrieved 2021-12-20.
Nesom, Guy L. (2006). "Ageratum houstonianum". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). Vol. 21. New York and Oxford – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Species profile
I. Kiss; et al. (September 1988), "Biological activity of precocene analogues on Locusta migratoria", Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 44 (9): 790–792, doi:10.1007/BF01959168, S2CID 38482650
Acamovic, T., Stewart, C.S., Pennycott, T.W.,"Poisonous Plants and Related Toxins", 2004
Noa, M., Sanchez, L.M., Durand, R., "Ageratum houstonianum toxicosis in Zebu cattle", Veterinary and human toxicology, 2004, vol.46, no4, pp.193-195.
Wiedenfeld H, Andrade-Cetto A., "Pyrrolizidine alkaloids from Ageratum houstonianum Mill.", Phytochemistry, 2001 Aug, pp1269-71 [1]
Global Compendium of Weeds, Ageratum houstonianum (Asteraceae)
JSTOR Plant Science
"Ageratum houstoninum 'Blue Danube'". RHS. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
"Ageratum houstonianum 'Blue Horizon'". RHS. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
"AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. November 2018. p. 3. Retrieved 27 February 2020.

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