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(kō`lēəs), common name for a genus of plants with large colorful leaves native to tropical Asia and Africa. Several species are grown as ornamentals. Plants of the genus Coleus are in the family Labiatae (mintmint,
in botany, common name for members of the Labiatae, a large family of chiefly annual or perennial herbs. Several species are shrubby or climbing forms or, rarely, small trees.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a genus of plants of the family Labiatae. They are primarily perennial herbs or subshrubs with opposite leaves. The flowers, which are blue or lilac, small, and verticillastrate, are gathered into compound inflorescences. There are approximately 150 species, distributed in the tropics of the eastern hemisphere. Some species, such as Coleus parviflorus and C. edulis, have starchy tubers and are cultivated for food in tropical Africa and Asia. Many species are ornamental. Some have beautiful blossoms (C. frederici, C. thyrsoides, and C. shirensis); others have velvety reddish or brownish leaves that sometimes have a design or border. The hybrid varieties C. blumei and C. rehneltianus, with variegated leaves, are cultivated in greenhouses and are common house plants.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.