Tuesday, 15 September 2009

A great family to have around.

Meet the Bignonia family.
It's proper name is: Bignoniaceae

Let me come clean: I am going to describe a family of climbing plants that grow quickly in this climate and don't need much looking after. For a new garden in a Mediterranean climate they are a great choice.

This reddish-orange flower in the two photos above is from one of the Bignonia family of climbing shrubs. Its name is Tecoma (also called Tecomaria) Capensis or Cape Honeysuckle. The flowers are about 7 cms long and the leaves are wavy-edged pinnate with five or seven branches. The flowers tumble together in a cluster. For this way of describing plant leaves I have to thank the Royal Horticultural Society's A-Z of Garden Plants. Left to myself I would say that the leaves consist of smaller leaves (or leaflets) arranged opposite each other in pairs plus one leaflet at the end of the stem. And there are either 5 or 7 leaflets on each leaf.
There are also, by the way, other plants growing over the pergola including a Passion Flower - in one photo you can see its bright, starry shape rising above the rest of the growth. This invader has somehow seeded itself somewhere in the foliage.

Another Bignonia family member grows beside and over the front gate. This one I am pretty sure is Tecoma Apricot although it has grown into a small tree with several narrow trunks reaching higher than the 1.5 metres given as its maximum height in the A-Z.

 This plant also appeared
showing its vivid flowers strewn on the driveway after a storm in the 2008 blog At home on the Costa Blanca in the piece for the month of October entitled 'The 'Gota Fria'.

The third member of the Bignonia family in our garden (in the two photos nearest to this text) is unidentified. The A-Z does not mention a species with this pale blue colour *. I am hoping that some experienced gardener or plant expert will read this and identify the species. If not, then I am going to call it Manchestericeae Urbis (the urbis is genitive case, mainly because urbis looks nicer than any of the other cases of the Latin 'urbs' meaning 'city'.)

*Addendum: The colour of the flowers is pink, not pale blue. I can now identify the plant as Pandorea Rosea, another genus of the Bignonia family.

How could I get the colour so wrong?
When I was writing about them I went outside to look at the flowers. In full sun in the middle of the day and against the sky they seemed clearly pale blue. When I was publishing this piece some time later I went to photograph the flowers and again did not notice their true colour. It was not until the photos appeared on the website that I realised I had made a mistake

Unfortunately therefore, Manchestericeae Urbis (Manchester City) cannot be created and will never be a member of the Bignonia family .........but, of course, Manchester City F.C. will remain a Premier League team playing in pale blue shirts.

Summary: I wrote about three species of ramblers from the same family (Bignonia). They were
1. Tecoma Capensis or Cape Honeysuckle, orange in colour
2. Tecoma Apricot, apricot in colour (or a bright orange)
3. Pandorea Rosea, pink in colour.
Two were of the genus called Tecoma and one was of the genus called Pandorea. 'Cape Honeysuckle' is the common name of one of the Tecomas. I have not come across a common name for the other two species. (I learned a lot writing about this family)

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