Two forms of Rangoon creeper
The ‘Rangoon creeper’ (Quisqualis indica, Combretaceae) is a common and beloved vine in Southeast Asian gardens. It grows wild in the nearby national park and the wild form has established itself at Dokmai Garden where it climbs a mango tree.
If you buy a potted specimen at Chiang Mai’s Khamtieng flower market you are likely to get the garden cultivar ‘flore pleno’ which has more petals than the wild form. It is a common mutation in nature that male stamens become petals. Which of the two forms you like is just a matter of taste. The ‘flore pleno’ is still capable of reproduction, making fruits and seeds which germinate elsewhere.
At Dokmai Garden we use the ‘flore pleno’ as a living curtain by growing it on an arbour. The white flowers open at night, but during the day the flowers develop more and more red colours to finally reach an almost metallic magenta. The fragrance is elegant and appealing, and native butterflies are attracted to the flowers.
Today when we had our first visitor from Haiti I learnt that in Haiti they grow the wild form too (it is well spread in the tropics). As children they liked to make garlands of the flowers, simply by inserting the flower stalk into the mouth of another flower. Since the wild form has longer stalks it is more suitable than the ‘flore pleno’. We immediately tried it and it works very well.
Text and Photo: Eric Danell