Tropaelum tricolor

Tropaelum tricolor

Habitat:

Plant in a position in full or part sun ensuring that soil is well drained.

Distribution:

From Chile and Bolivia.

Feeding/Cultivation:

Water freely and feed monthly when in growth. As the leaves wither after flowering, reduce watering and keep barely moist while dormant.

Description:

This species is a half hardy climbing plant (southern states) with red, violet and yellow flowers. In late winter it produces masses of thread-like stems which climb into any available vegetation or supporting structure. The stems can reach 5 m long, and appear in late winter from a reddish, underground tuber. The bright green leaves are soft, round and deeply lobed. The flowers appear in spring, singly in the leaf axils, and have a long, pointed red spur, dark sepals and small yellow petals. It is dormant during the summer months.

Background:

References indicate that T. tricolor  was introduced in 1828. However, historical records from Kew Botanical Gardens that French botanist Guillemin passed on collections to Kew in 1830 and Englishmen Cuming in 1831 and Lindley in 1834. Kew has a record indicating that botanist and horticulturist Robert Sweet described T. tricolor in 1831.  Why is history important..well research can turn up all sorts of interesting things. For example Sweet started work as a gardener from the age of sixteen, eventually being appointed as a foreman or partner in a series of nurseries.  In 1812 he joined Colvills, the famous Chelsea nursery. By 1818 he was publishing horticultural and botanical works. Here’s the interesting bit…..In 1824 he was wrongly accused with receiving a batch of plants allegedly stolen from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. It was suggested that this was an attempt to frame him by an official at Kew whom Sweet had criticised. Many of the witnesses for his defence gave him the highest praise as a botanist. He was aquitted.

Availability:

Available from the nursery from September.