The Jade Vine

A truly striking flower, Strongylodon macrobotrys, will stop you in your tracks! A rare woody tropical vine scarcely seen in nature with petals of an iridescent turquoise colour. The flowers hang in pendant trusses (pseudoracemes) which can reach up to 3m long and 6cm across. Native to the damp rain forests of the Philippines the vine can grow up to 18m long and has leaves comprised of three leaflets. The seed pods contain 12 seeds and are produced in fleshy pods that reach around 15cm in length.  Found in the Leguminosae or Pea family it is pollinated by bats. Sadly deforestation is threatening this species in its native habitat. It is now a rare sight to see this plant species growing in the wild. Fortunately several UK  Botanic Gardens have had success growing it and persuading it to flower. This is not an easy species to flower, pollinate and set fertile seed in cultivation. Expert horticulturists mimic bats which would visit the flowers at night to drink nectar through hand pollination. The bats would hang upside down to drink the nectar whilst they do this their head would brush against pollen. As the bats visit other flowers the pollen is transferred onto the female parts of the next flower that the bat visits resulting in pollination. This demonstrates co-evolution and how the bat and plant species have evolved to work together. The woody tropical vine can also be propagated by nodal cuttings.

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