Thursday, May 20, 2010


Vining relatives of the Hydrangeas, that most people never heard of but make excellent plants for the shady landscape.

Decumaria barbara ( Woodvamp )
This evergreen climber in the hydrangea family is self clinging ( by means of aerial roots ) and can reach up to 43 ( rarely 60 ) feet in height. It is an excellent, fast growing climber for tall trees, walls and trellises. Stems may reach out as much as 8 feet from the climbing surface. It is native to the southeastern U.S. ( Arkansas to southeast Virginia to Delaware; south to Louisiana to central Florida ).
The elliptic leaves are up to 6 x 3 ( rarely over 5 )inches in size. The foliage is glossy deep green.
During late spring into early summer, it bears slightly fragrant, white flowers on domed clusters up to 4 inches across.
The flowers on Decumaria are all fertile unlike on many Hydrangea. Only climbing shoots bloom meaning Decumaria does not bloom when used as groundcover.
Hardy zones 5 to 9, it becomes deciduous rather than evergreen at temperatures below 8 F. It is flood tolerant making it an excellent choice for floodplain and swampy sites. It is also rarely bothered by insect pests or disease.
As a woodland plant native to the southeast U.S. from Arkansas to Long Island ( NY ) and south. Not only is this an excellent vine for use in shaded areas but on such sites it usually remains dense with foliage from its highest reaches all the way to ground level. It prefers part shade but is adaptable to sun or shade; preferring moist, fertile, acidic soils.
Grows from seed and softwood cuttings, the second being quicker to bloom than seed raised plants.

* photos taken on May 5 2010 @ McCrillis Gardens, Bethesda, MD

* photos taken on Apr 17 2016 @ U.S. National Arboretum, DC

'Barbara Ann'
Superior thick, leathery, glossy deep green foliage.


* photo taken on Aug 23 2014 @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC

Decumaria sinensis
Native to China and less vigorous, only reaching about 20 feet with evergreen shiny green, narrow foliage up to 3.6 inches in length.
It blooms abundantly with slightly fragrant, creamy white clustered flowers.
Hardy north to zone 7

Pileostegia viburnoides
A moderate growing, evergreen, woody vine, reaching a maximum height of 82 ( usually under 45 ) feet, that is a widespread native to India, southern and eastern China as well as Japan and Taiwan. It climbs by means of aerial roots and reaches massive proportions similar to that of Hedera helix on forest trees within its native range.
This beautiful evergreen vine graces the walls of many old mansions in southern and western Europe.
The leathery, entire, oblanceolate leaves are up to 7 x 2.5 inches in size.
The thick foliage is brilliant bronze-red at first, turning to polished glossy, rich mid to deep green. The luxuriant foliage is very tropical looking.
The frothy, creamy-white flowers are borne in dense panicles, up to 8 x 10 inches, during late summer into early autumn.
Hardy zones 7 to 9 in sun or shade ( but prefers its roots in shade ) on moist, fertile, well drained soil.
Cold winters in zone 7 may cause damage but plants should recover if cut back in early spring. It is a spectacular climber that thrives in both the Pacific Northwest as well as the humid southeast.
Propagation is from cuttings taken late spring into early summer as well as seed sown during autumn. Rooted shoots near the root crown of the plant can also be detached and grown on their own.
Pileostegia tomentella
A southeast China native that is similar except for having red-brown, densely-woolly undersides of the leaves.

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