Combretum indicum

Combretum indicum

This unusual tropical vine, sometimes known as the Rangoon creeper, was once called Quisqualis indica. This name came from the words 'Which?' and 'What?' is Latin, said to reflect amazement at the variable growth pattern of the plant. It is found in South-East Asia and tropical Africa. Mine was grown from a cutting and was very slow to take off, sulking for several years, and not liking winter when it was young. Initially, I wondered if it really was a climber as looked quite shrub-like. However, after a few years it started sending out long canes, armed with sharp hooks that help it cling to supports. Apparently it can be kept as a shrub if it is clipped regularly.

Its clusters of fragrant harlequin flowers appear in summer, starting off white, and changing to pink then red as they age over a three-day period. am still not sure whether maybe I have planted a monster ... I'm pretty sure it can be a problem in warmer parts of the country. In Sydney perhaps winter will dampen its enthusiasm, as it is frost-sensitive. In tropical areas it can apparently reach 21 m in height - I'll be hoping for something lower than that on my modest pergola, and will be pruning it annually!

It likes a sunny position. It can be propagated from cuttings or layers. Watch this space for further updates on this plant!

Flowers in January, February.