Thunbergia mysorensis (clock vine)
The clock vine can reach up to 10 metres in length with hanging stems of stunning yellow and reddish-brown flowers.
About this species
Thunbergia mysorensis is a woody-stemmed, evergreen, climbing plant native to India. The genus name Thunbergia commemorates the Swedish physician and botanist, Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828), a protégé of Linnaeus. The species name 'mysorensis' refers to the city of Mysore in southern India. It is an attractive plant for winter and spring flowering in a conservatory or warm greenhouse.
Geography & Distribution
This species is native to southern India, from the Nilgiri Mountains (often referred to as the Nilgiri Hills) to Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin), at elevations reaching 900 m. It is commonly cultivated throughout India, and outdoors elsewhere in warm temperate and tropical areas.
This is a vigorous, winter-flowering climber, with slender twining stems up to 10 m long. It has glossy, green leaves, each around 15 cm long.
The yellow and reddish-brown flowers hang in long racemes (an unbranched, elongated stem with stalked flowers), which can measure up to 90 cm in length. Each flower measures about 5 cm and has a gaping yellow throat and reflexed (turned back) dark red lobes. In the wild, it is pollinated by sunbirds.
Illustration from Curtis's Botanical Magazine
Hand-coloured lithograph of Thunbergia mysorensis by W.H. Fitch (1854), taken from Curtis’s Botanical Magazine (Image: RBG Kew)
Curtis’s Botanical Magazine (Editor: Martyn Rix) provides an international forum of particular interest to botanists and horticulturists, plant ecologists and those with a special interest in botanical illustration.
Now well over two hundred years old, the Magazine is the longest running botanical periodical featuring colour illustrations of plants. Each four-part volume contains 24 plant portraits reproduced from watercolour originals by leading international botanical artists. Detailed but accessible articles combine horticultural and botanical information, history, conservation and economic uses of the plants described.
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Thunbergia mysorensis is widely cultivated as an ornamental in the tropics, as well as in conservatories and greenhouses elsewhere. It has received an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
As the clock vine comes from a tropical monsoon climate, it requires warm temperatures and ample water in summer, and a dry, cooler winter to flower freely.
This species at Kew
Pressed and dried, and alcohol-preserved specimens of Thunbergia mysorensis are held in Kew’s Herbarium, where they are available to researchers from around the world, by appointment. The details of some of these specimens, including images, can be seen online in the Herbarium Catalogue.
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