This beautiful climbing plant, Petrea volubilis, is native to Central America. At Val Rahmeh, it has its perfect spot on the façade of the main villa. It boasts numerous violet star-shaped flowers and has two blossoms, one in June and the other in September.
The genus Petrea is named after Lord R.J. Petre, famed eighteenth century tropical plant collector. Volubilis means “twining”.
Description and flowering period
This grey-barked vine reaches 10 meters in height. Without support it can be grown into a rounded shrub. Its persistent opposite leaves are elliptical with slightly toothed margins. The spectacular clusters of lavender to deep purple flowers can reach over 30cm long. They are nectariferous and are thus particularly attractive to butterflies. Individual flowers are composed of a calyx bearing 5 narrow, elongated lavender sepals and the corolla has fused petals which end in 5 rounded lobes. The corolla is smaller than the calyx and is generally a much darker shade of purple. It falls quickly, whilst the fairly persistent sepals are the reason for the species’ ornamental value.
It thrives in a warm relatively humid environment (approaching tropical conditions). Older subjects can tolerate drought, sea-sprays and light frosts of -1°C to -2°C.
A white-flowered cultivar exists. It can be found under the name Petrea volubilis ‘Alba’.
Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN