Ragoon Creeper is a flowering vine and medicinal plant originating from the Old World tropics, from the region extending from India through Southeast Asia to Southern China.
It is a vigorous, much-branching plant, made up of cylindrical stems 10 to 20 m (33 to 66 ft) long that are green and softly hairy when young, becoming woody with age. These climb up, around and over vertical structures, eventually entwining and covering them with green foliage.
Leaves oval with a pointed tip, up to 12 cm (4.5 in) long, reddish when they emerge, becoming dark green. They are arranged in pairs along the growing ends of the vine and stay on the plant until the dry season, when they fall to conserve water, leaving the stems partly bare and exposed until the rainy season, when the new leaves emerge.
Soon after the new leaves emerge, the plant comes into bloom, with clusters of small trumpet-shaped flowers arising at the tips of the vine. White when they open, the flowers curiously change colour, becoming pink then finally red, though not all at the same time, resulting in clusters of flowers in all three colours.
The flowers are followed by dark brown, elongated-oval, five-winged seedpods up to 4 cm (1.5 in) long, each enclosing a single seed.
Rangoon Creeper is cultivated in warm-climate gardens for training on trellises and arbours, and for growing up against walls and fences, so as to quickly create a covering of dense foliage and to furnish blooms of colour. It may also be trained to become a natural awning for porches and verandas, for giving shade from the hot tropical sun.
Another curiosity of this plant is that when the leaf blades fall in the dry season, the stalks transform into stout, curved thorns that further assist the plant to climb.
According to 'Herbal plants: keeping our traditional wisdom alive', a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) publication, Rangoon Creeper has traditional use in the Asia-Pacific region as a treatment against intestinal worms. Only the fruit are used and caution is exercised to not exceed the recommended dosage, as overdosing can lead to unconsciousness.
The fruit also possess soporific properties, or the tendency to induce drowsiness or sleep.
Grows naturally in dry to humid subtropical and tropical climates, generally areas with annual lows of 10 to 25 °C, annual highs of 22 to 35 °C, annual rainfall of 700 to 4500 mm and a dry season of 7 months or less, extending to 12 months with irrigation.
Able to tolerate moderate frost, Rangon Creeper will grow and flower in the warmer months in warm temperate climates, but may not fruit or set seed and will die-back in winter.
New plants can be started from seed, cuttings or using air-layering (circumposing) techniques.
Performs best on free-draining loam, loamy-sand and sandy-loam soils of a moderately acid to alkaline nature, generally with a pH of 5.0 to 8.0, and on sites with full to partial sun exposure.
Seedlings sprouting from fallen seed can form a thick understory beneath the parent plant. The plant is also prone to suckering. It is assessed as a high weed risk species for Hawaii, by the Hawaii Pacific Weed Risk Assessment project (HPWRA).
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