The Melastomataceae is a large family of mainly tropical and sub-tropical plants, with 170 genera and over 5,000 species. Although the flowers and fruits are often colourful and showy, being a tropical family means that only a handful of species are widely grown in UK horticulture, mainly as conservatory or houseplants.
The family gets it’s name from the genus Melastoma, which includes the species Melastoma malabathricum, a common weed throughout the tropics. The berries are edible, but stain the mouth dark blue, hence the name: melas is Greek for black and stoma for mouth.
It is quite a distinctive family, with most species sharing at least some of the following characters:
Some species you might find growing in UK gardens: