Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the December 18, 2006 Newsletter issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, QUERÉTARO, MÉXICO

Once again this Sunday I headed upslope through the scrub and once again on the outskirts of town I was transfixed by flowering plants around people's homes. This week it was the Flame Vine, PYROSTEGIA IGNEA, that caught my eye. You can see a cantaloupe-size cluster of Flame Vine's 2- to 3-inch-long, reddish-orange flowers below:


Flame Vine is a member of the Bignonia Family. North Americans know Trumpet Creeper and Catalpa, which also are members of this family. Flame Vine bears evergreen leaves that can be simple or digitately compound (with leaflets arising from one point like the digits of a hand), and its stems are somewhat woody. With its tough tendrils, which divide into three curling, wrapping- around "fingers" at their tips, the vine climbs along walls and fences for up to 40 feet. The one I saw Sunday was cascading down a 20-ft stone wall simply setting the whole slope ablaze.

One curious feature of Flame Vine's blossoms is that the curved-back corolla lobes bear whitish, velvety margins. You can barely see this in the picture.

Flame Vine is a native of Brazil and is grown from cuttings in the full sun.