Friday, February 17, 2017

Solanum wendlandii, Blue Potato Vine

Solanum wendlandii  
Paradise Flower, Blue Potato Vine, Divorce Flower
(Flowers described as lavender coloured, showy terminal panicle of cymes up to 20cm long)
Fading flowers set against a Golden Robinia Tree

Dense climbing branches up to 4 metres long covering a pergola
I have been admiring this climber in my neighborhood for years . It grows across a pergola walkway at the entrance to a townhouse complex. This plant could be considered a cool tropical as it native to mountainous areas of Central and South America, and therefore tolerant of a wide climate range. It was first collected by German botanist and horticulturist Hermann Wendland (1825-1903) in Costa Rica in 1882. He sent seed from the Royal Garden of Herrenhausen in Hanover to Kew Gardens where it was subsequently described in the Curtis' Botanical Magazine of 1887. Debate has raged ever since as to an exact species description and habit. The leaves are variable in shape and can be entire and ovate or deeply lobed. Leaf and stem prickles can be present or few and absent. So I hit the jackpot with this plant as it has very prickly leaves. When I went to take a few cuttings, the leaves attached themselves to my fingers like Velcro hooks and also to each other so I was left with a tangle of stems clinging to my hands. As climbing roses can be thorny I guess this should not be a deterrent from growing it. In Australia there are only male plants so seed does not appear and it must be propagated vegetatively. It appears on weed lists in Queensland but this may be because it goes absolutely rampant in the sub-tropics not because it throws off loads of seed which invade bushland.
2017 update: I have limited stock available.

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