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Products > Mascagnia macroptera
Mascagnia macroptera - Butterfly Vine
Image of Mascagnia macroptera
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Vine
Family: Malpighiaceae (Malpighias)
Origin: Baja California (North America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Synonyms: [Callaeum macroptera ]
Height: Climbing (Vine)
Width: Spreading
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Mascagnia macroptera (Butterfly Vine) - An evergreen vine that climbs by twining stems and bears dark green lanceolate leaves that are 2 inches long and up to an inch wide. Beginning in late spring, this vine produces clusters of showy yellow 5-petaled 1-inch wide orchid-shaped flowers followed by papery, winged chartreuse seed pods that turn tan. This fruit resembles a green to brown butterfly, hence the common name "Butterfly Vine". A second flowering will often occur in fall. This aggressive heat-loving vine can climb 15 to 20 feet up a trellis or fence or without support it will twine on itself, growing in a mound which can be kept pruned to a shrub or groundcover.

Plant in full or part sun and although it is a moderately drought tolerant plant once established, it will be much more lush with regular watering from late spring through fall. Plants are cold hardy and evergreen to the mid-20s F. If grown in cooler climates this plant is considered deciduous. If frozen to the ground in such cold locations as USDA Zone 8 it will often resprout from the base but late frosts delay flowering.

Butterfly Vine is native to Arizona (w/o definite locality), central Baja California and from Sonora south throughout much of Mexico. It is commonly called Butterfly Pea Vine, Yellow Orchid Vine, or Gallinita. The name was given to this genus in 1824 by the Italian naturalist and physician Carlo Luigi Guiseppe Bertero (1789-1831) to honor Paolo Mascagni (1755-1815) an Italian naturalist and professor of anatomy at the University of Pisa. The specific epithet comes from the Greek words 'macro' meaning "large" and 'ptera' or 'pteron' meaning "winged" in reference to the large winged fruit of this species.

Mascagnia macroptera is sometimes wrongly considered a synonym with Stigmaphyllon ciliatum which differs in having ovate ciliate margined leaves. Though we continue to list this plant as Mascagnia macroptera as it is the name we received it as and are accustomed to, in a 1986 article by David Johnson of the University of Michigan in Systematic Botany titled "Revision of the Neotropical Genus Callaeum (Malpighiaceae)", this species was included in this genus as Callaeum macropterum and though there was confusion in botanic garden databases for some time about which name was valid, it appears that Callaeum macropterum is the current valid name of this taxon. The name for the genus Callaeum comes from the Greek word 'kallaion' meaning "cockscomb" in reference to corrugated outgrowths on the samara of the type species Callaeum nicaraguense.

We have grown this plant since 1999. Because of the naming confusion and since we also still grow the related plants Stigmaphyllon ciliatum and Stigmaphyllon littorale, we have a comparison image showing these three plants together on our Mascagnia and Stigmaphyllon Comparison Page

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