Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quisqualis indica

Quisqualis indica is a very vigorous, fast-growing vine that blooms throughout the warm months of the year.  In my garden, that is May through October.  The flowers open white in the evening, are pink by the next afternoon, and red the following day.  The clusters of blooms usually open a few flowers at a time, so multiple colors are always visible on the plant.  The blooms have a delicious, fruity, ripe-melon scent that perfumes the air for a considerable distance from the plant.
There is a very interesting study on Quisqualis flower orientation and color change here.  Apparently the flowers open white at night to attract pollinating moths and turn red to attract daytime pollinators.  The angle of the flower also changes.
New growth will reach out, twine around, and climb up anything within reach.  I've had one as high as 50 feet up in the top of a Camphor tree.  Others have reported heights up to 70 feet. 
They bloom on new growth and can be maintained as a large shrub with vigilant pruning of the tendrils.  I've also seen them trellised and loaded with blooms.  The trunk of the plant becomes very woody with age.
Quisqualis indica is sometimes known as Rangoon Creeper.  It is native to Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia.  It is hardy for USDA Zones 9-11.
Large plants of Quisqualis can spread by root suckers and the species is listed as invasive in some parts of Australia.  Flowers are reported as edible and contain strong antioxident properties.  I've sampled them and they really have no flavor.  They would probably be okay mixed into salads to add color.
One other interesting feature is that as the leaves age, the petioles thicken and curve downward.  After the leaf drops, a thorn-like spur remains. 


Ami said...

It is real interesting to have one plant with different flowers showing at the same time. This is a real beautiful vine, and I can imgine how wonderful of scent it spreads in the air. You sure have lots of plants varieties in your garden!!!

NanaK said...

Very interesting to read the reason for the different color flowers. I remember this vine from my childhood. I should look into getting it for my current garden.

Floridagirl said...

An even prettier display of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow than the purple namesake! I've often admired Rangoon Creeper, but with a disabling vine phobia, I can't bring myself to plant one.

Sunita Mohan said...

I had no idea that they start off as white. And they grow all over the place here ... I must be blind! I did notice the different shades of pink though. Little girls sometimes stick the petals onto their nails with water to give an illusion of grown-up long, painted nails. They do look quite realistic :)

Reinier Verly said...

I had it growing in my garden in Israel before I left.
Visiting the old badly attendent garden showed me that this wonderfull plant easilly becomes apest. From the roots it made a lot of new plants that grow totally independant.
I made cuttings and took them back to the Netherlands, it took 1 year before they showed any growth at all.
Sadlly I was to late to bring them inside again and temperatures lower than 10 Degrees Celcius probably killed them.
I have to make cuttings again next time.