The perennial tropical jade vine—scientific name Strongylodon macrobotrys—is native to the humid rainforests of the Philippines.
Locals refer to the plant as “tayabak,” according to Maya Flowers.
However, this mesmerizing vine is also cultivated in Australia, South Africa, the UK, and the United States.
The jade vine is also sold in select specialist nurseries so that plant lovers can sample its unique magic for themselves at home.
The flowering vine produces huge bouquets of jade-colored flowers, each bunch containing hundreds of flowers and measuring upward of 1 meter in length. Each stem can grow up to 18 meters long.
The extraordinary color of the flowers owes to malvin and saponarin, two pigments that when planted in slightly alkaline soil affect a blue-green tone.
As the flowers eventually wither and fall from the stems, they turn from turquoise to a deep purple-brown.
In its natural habitat, jade vine plants its roots in the cool soil of the rainforest while its stems climb trees to reach the sun.
The flowers bloom in the canopies, nourished by sunlight and helpfully pollinated by bats at twilight—thanks to an abundance of sweet nectar and the plant’s luminous glow under cover of darkness.
Sadly, as jade vine’s natural habitat is gradually destroyed by deforestation, the plant is reaching endangered status, reports Eden Project.
The first jade vine was discovered in the Philippines by Western botanists in 1854.
It has since been successfully cultivated in the UK at Kew Gardens, the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, and the Eden Project in the south of England, and in the United States at Longwood Gardens, Naples Botanical Garden, Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens, and Franklin Park Conservatory.
In these nurseries, horticulturalists mimic the bats, the vine’s natural pollinators, whose numbers are also diminishing in the wild, by pollinating jade vine by hand.
A variety known as scarlet jade vine or “New Guinea creeper”—scientific name Mucuna bennettii—is equally adept at growing in private gardens, according to Gardening Know How.
Bright red in bloom, scarlet jade vine’s bouquets will turn yellow as the flowers start to wither. Best planted in cool soil with access to sun beside a tall structure, such as a trellis, these joyful blooms are bound to captivate all who witness them: a little heavenly majesty brought down to home soil.
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