The White Shrimp Plant is most often grown as a flowering ornamental shrub in warmer parts of Florida. Its gorgeous variegated bracts yield light purple flowers, making them a stand out beauty in the garden. Few people know that this is Had Paata of Indian traditional medicine. The roots, leaves, and flowers all have traditional medicinal uses. In India, a poultice of the crushed fresh leaves is applied to help with abscesses and in Sri Lanka a leaf poultice is applied to treat boils. The inflorescences are used as a hair tonic. Both hummingbirds and butterflies like to nectar at the flowers.
MEDICINAL USES: Root, leaves, and flowers. “Used in the treatment of various gastrointestinal complaints.”  Analgesic, anti-Inflammatory, antimalarial, febrifuge. “Constipation, malaria, orchitis [inflammation of one or both of the testicles], pain, snake bite, stomach ache, swelling, vomiting.”  “The Indians make use of the plant in the treatment of diarrhea and in Kenya they use the leaves and flower ash for it.” [8/12] globinmed.com lists it as having no documented toxicity. "The Sukuma of Tanganyika, prepare an ointment from the plant-ash in butter to treat scaly skin."  "An infusion is prepared from the leaves and offered as a drink in Kenya for snake-bite." 
- MEDICINAL INFLORESCENCES: "To treat vomiting and constipation the Indians used the inflorescence given orally." 
- MEDICINAL LEAVES: "A poultice made from the leaves is used to treat to boils in Ceylon, and to swellings in Malaya. Leaves are also prepared and mixed in Ceylon for diarrhea." 
- EXTERNAL MEDICINAL USES: “The Indian and Sri Lankan community apply a poultice made from crushed leaves of the plant over abscesses to provide relief of pain and swelling.” [8/9] The [Asian] Indians use the inflorescence as a hair wash. 
- VETERINARY USES: "Leaves are boiled to a soup by cattle-folk in Uganda to cows-in-milk to drink as galactagogue (agent that promotes milk flow)." 
CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS: Beta Sitosterol, Lupeol. 
WILDLIFE: The flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
CUT FLOWER: Used in arrangements as a cut flower.
NATIVE TO: India. Tropical Asia.
HABITAT: “Moist deciduous forests and wastelands.” 
DESCRIPTION: A small evergreen shrub or bush.
- HEIGHT: 2-6' tall.
- STEMS: Procumbent, with swollen nodes.
- LEAVES: Opposite, small.
- INFLORESCENCE: Inflorescences consist of green-striped cream to pale green (sometimes with a tinge of pink) bracts, upright, compact, with flowers aging from white to violet; corolla two-lipped, mauve, with a white spot on the lower lip. 
- FRUIT: Fruits are 2 lobed capsules. 
ETYMOLOGY: Betonica means betony like. "The genus epithet 'Justicia' was named after James Justice, a horticulturalist from Scotland (1730-1763)." 
- COLD HARDINESS: USDA zones 9-11, often killed to the ground in zone 8, but should resprout from the roots.
- LIGHT: Sun to part sun.
- WATER: Moderate needs. 
Sources for acquiring
Crowley Nursery in Sarasota sells it [call ahead to make sure that they have some in stock]
 Ethno-Medico-Botanical Studies from Rayalasseema Region of Southern Eastern Ghats, Andra Pradesh, India, Ethnobotanical Leaflets, 2006
 Gerald Carr [photo: dark-lipped flowers]
 Handbook of Tropical Plants, New Delhi, 1993
 Healing Treatments in Aldai and Kaptumo Divisions in nandi District, Rift Valley Province, Kenya, African Journal of Traditional, Complimentary, and Alternative Medicines, 2008
 India Biodiversity Portal
 Khare Indian Medicinal Plants, 2007
 Luo Biological Dictionary, 1998
 rayon-de-serre.fr [photo: flower close-up]
 Rob Nelson [photo: medium close up of flower]
 wildlifeofhawaii [photo: upright inflorescence]
 Flora Fauna Web [National Parks Board, Singapore]