Aeschynanthus marmoratus: Zebra Basket Vine

In popular books, such as this, plants may be arranged in alphabetical order, which makes for quick reference, but only if the reader knows the correct and valid Latin name (and is able to remember it at the given moment), or else the way they are arranged in this website — in groups. This, however, results in many inaccuracies and unfortunately the section on epiphytes is the most striking example, for it should, by rights, include pratically all the orchids and bromeliads. Schefflera, for example, often grows as an epiphyte in the seedling stage. On the other hand, it is of a woody nature, and so could be placed in that group but, in fact, it is grown as a foliage plant, and that is the group under which it will be found in this website. The index of Latin names, however, will prove a handy aid to those who are in difficulties.

The genus Aeschynanthus, the first in this section on epiphytes, embraces some 200 species found in south-east and southern Asia. Most grow on trees in the forks of branches and on trunks, or in a thin layer of humus on rocks, their branches trailing downward to form long, thick veils.

In cultivation, species are grown for their beautiful foliage, for example the A. marmoratus (syn. Trichosporum marmoratum) from Thailand and Burma, or for their lovely flowers. One that has become very popular in recent years is A. speciosus from the mountains of Java, Borneo and Malaysia. The stems are pendant, about 60 to 80 cm (24 to 32 in) long, the leaves opposite (sometimes in groups of three), green, firm and up to 10 cm (4 in) long, the flowers bright orange red and borne in terminal clusters up to 10 cm (4 in) long. Much alike are A. lobbianus and A. pulcher, both more or less green leaved with red flowers; the first, however, has the calyx and corolla a single colour and covered with hairs.

Aeschynanthus are excellent, hardy plants that do well in modern centrally-heated homes. In summer they should be sprayed frequently. Otherwise cultivation is the same as for columneas.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles, House Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Aeschynanthus marmoratus: Zebra Basket Vine

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