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Products > Pyrostegia venusta
Pyrostegia venusta - Flame Vine
Image of Pyrostegia venusta
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Vine
Family: Bignoniaceae (Bignonias)
Origin: Brazil (South America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Orange
Bloomtime: Fall/Winter
Synonyms: [Pyrostegia ignea, Bignonia venusta]
Height: Climbing (Vine)
Width: Spreading
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30° F
Pyrostegia venusta (Flame Vine) - Flame vine is one of the most spectacular flowering vines in cultivation. It is a vigorous, evergreen liana (a name for large woody climbers) that can spread quickly by tendrils to the top of whatever supports it, including fences, other plants or even small buildings by branching profusely and climbing using its clinging tendrils. It produces clusters of spectacular orange flowers in the fall through winter and often into spring a late as May here in Santa Barbara; the tubular flowers with exerted style and stamens are about 3 inches long and occur in clusters of 15-20 at the tips of branches and they often hang downwards under their own weight so are well displayed from below. Fruit, when it is rarely set, is a slender dry capsule about 1 foot long.

Plant in full sun or part shade and water regularly to occasionally and older established plants have proved to be quite drought tolerant. It is cold hardy to short durations temperatures down to 25° F and resprouts from the ground if nipped back. Though we think of this vine more as a plant for coastal gardens, we have been told by a gardener that he has quite successfully grown this plant in the heat of the Arizona desert. It is a vigorous vine that left on its own will densely cover what is supporting but it can be easily pruned to maintain a more open look and is a useful vine to cover an arbor or trellis at the front gate, trained on a rock wall or to cover a long fence line. It is attractive to hummingbirds. A neighboring property to our nursery once had a small barn that was completely covered by this vine and when in full bloom was quite a sight.

Pyrostegia venusta is native to Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and possibly gets as far north as southern Mexico where it grows in seasonally dry forests. The name for the genus is from the Greek word 'pyr' meaning "fire" and stegé meaning "a roof" referring to the abundance of the fire-colored flowers. The specific epithet is from the Latin word 'venustus' meaning "beautiful". Other common names include Golden Shower, Chinese Cracker Flower and in its native Brazil is called Belas. This plant was originally collected in Brazil in 1815 by Admiral Sir John Beresford and described from a garden in England in The Botanical Register (later Curtis) in 1817 as Begonia venusta by British botanist John Ker Bellenden, (also known as John Gawler) but was later included in the new genus Pyrostegia by John Miers in 1863.

Peter Reidel in his 1957 tome Plants for Extra-Tropical Regions and subtitled A Catalog of the Plants That Are, Have Been, or Might Be Grown Where the Orange and the Avocado Thrive, Including Brief Mention of Others Every Plantsman Should Know noted that this vine had been exhibited in San Francisco as early as 1871 and was represented in Santa Barbara in the garden of Dr. L.M. Dimmick in 1880. It can be seen in many locations around our city including along Highway 101, the main corridor through our area where it is planted along the northbound lanes between El Sueno and Turnpike Roads. We have grown this showy plant continuously since 1994. 

This information about Pyrostegia venusta displayed on this web page is based on research we have conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations we have made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens visited, as well how our crops have performed in containers in the nursery field. Where appropriate, we will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing this plant.