Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fit for a King

These purple flowers with golden throats come from a tropical shrub I have growing in my yard called Thunbergia Erecta, or King's Mantle.  I'm guessing the royal purple color is where the popular name came from.  This is a lesser known member of a family of mostly vines, such as Black-eyed Susan vine, clock vine, and scrambling skyflower.  The flowers closely resemble morning glories, but this plant is certainly no vine.  This grows into a small shrub with shiny, attractive foliage and tons of these flowers in late summer and fall. 

Here is a better picture of the shrub, though it is squashed between an alocasia and some lantanas.  This plant came back for me this year despite the colder than normal winter we had.  It's not reliably hardy in my zone 8b area, but usually makes it.  I bought it on a whim at an LSU Arboretum sale last year and am so glad I did.  It's a very different plant and many people have asked us what it is because it's not common.  Put it in a sunny and sheltered spot where it will get good moisture and still be protected from freezing temperatures.  Mine is thriving with no extra care. 

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