Tecomanthe dendrophila

Common name: New Guinea trumpet creeper

Other common names: Forest bell creeper, New Guinea creeper

Description

Originating from Papua New Guinea this flowering vine grows fast and vigorous, forming a criss-cross entanglement of woody stems. The stems are grey-barked, up to 1 cm (0.4 in) thick, 10 to 20 m (33 to 66 ft) long and climb up, around and over vertical structures, in some cases completely covering them.

The leaves are compound, being made up of either two, four or six leaflets arranged in pairs along the length and with an extra leaflet at the tip. Individually the leaflets are elongated-oval, dark green, smooth on the margins and 6 to 7 cm (2.4 to 2.8 in) in length. They fall off the vine in the dry season to conserve water, exposing bare stems.

The flowers are trumpet-shaped, large, 6 to 12 cm (2.4 to 4.7 in) long, rose-pink on the outside, cream on the inside and on the lips, and are borne in large, showy, pendant clusters of up to sixteen. They bloom intermittently from autumn to early spring, but are at their best display on the exposed stems in the dry season, coinciding with winter in its native range. The fruit that follow are thin, leathery to woody seedpods 17 to 30 cm (7 to 12 in) long with small winged seed inside.

Use

It is cultivated for its striking flowers, lush green foliage and ability to grow quickly to cover a wall, fence trellis or arbour. A vigorous vine, it needs a solidly built structure to support its weight as it grows.

Climate

Grows naturally in humid subtropical and tropical lowland climates, generally in frost-free areas with annual lows of 18 25 °C, annual highs of 27 to 34 °C, annual rainfall of 1400 to 4000 mm and a dry season of 5 months or less.

Growing

New plants are started from semi-ripe cuttings, less commonly from seed. Performs best on sites with full to partial sun exposure and on rich, free-draining clay, loam or sand soils of a moderately acid to neutral nature, generally in the 6.0 to 7.5 pH range.

Problem features

The seed are small, germinate readily are designed to be dispersed by wind. However, there does not appear to be any record of it anywhere as a weed or invasive species, despite its introduction into areas outside of its native range. It is assessed as a low weed risk species for Hawaii, by the Hawaii Pacific Weed Risk Assessment project (HPWRA).

It has a smothering habit, sometimes overgrowing shrubs and even small trees, restricting their access to sunlight which may eventually kills them.

Where it grows

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