What is Rivina?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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Rivina is a plant genus native to the subtropical and tropical regions of the Americas, around United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) zones seven through ten. Like many plants adapted for the tropics, plants in this genus are designed for shade to partial shade, as they evolved to live under the canopy of larger tropical trees and plants. In addition to being found wild across the Americas, Rivina is also grown ornamentally in gardens and greenhouses and can also be cultivated as a houseplant.

The most famous species in this genus is R. humilis, known as the pigeonberry or rouge plant. The Latin name for the species is a reference to the fact that it usually grows low to the ground, rarely exceeding 18 inches (46 centimeters) in height. This plant has large glossy green leaves and racemes of pink flowers. It bears bright red berries and has a vine-like growth habit.


Historically, pigeonberries were used for dyes in some regions of the Americas. Today, this plant is cultivated primarily as an ornamental. Rivina makes an excellent groundcover for shaded regions of the garden and will thrive with other tropical and subtropical plants in a mixed garden or greenhouse. It prefers rich, well-drained soil and a moist environment. These plants look most attractive when massed together in a group planting, and can be used for borders and backgrounds, as well as garden features. As a houseplant, this house needs a warm, humid area of the house with bright indirect light.

Some nurseries and garden supply stores carry Rivina, especially if they carry tropical plants. In regions outside the zones where these plants safely grow, people may have to special order them through catalogs or by request from a nursery owner. It is also possible to obtain plants for trade from other gardeners. Online forums facilitate plant trades, allowing people to trade with gardeners outside their immediate region. This can provide people with rare cultivars and unusual hybrids that might not otherwise be available.

In nature, Rivina can be found growing with a variety of companion plants, depending on the regions where it grows. Other shade-loving plants can be a good choice for companion planting in a garden, as can vines and shrubs that will provide shade. If Rivina becomes invasive or unwanted in a garden, it is relatively easy to eradicate by tearing out existing plants, sifting through the soil to remove rootballs, and laying down a weed barrier for several weeks to keep new shoots from germinating before establishing replacement plants.



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