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Products > Combretum fruticosum
Combretum fruticosum - Orange Flame Vine
Working on getting this plant back in the field but it is currently not available listing for information only!
Image of Combretum fruticosum
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Vine
Family: Combretaceae (Combretum, Mangos)
Origin: Tropical America
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Orange
Bloomtime: Summer/Fall
Height: Climbing (Vine)
Width: Spreading
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
Combretum fruticosum (Orange Flame Vine) - This unique bushy evergreen vine can grow supported to 12-20 feet tall and has attractive light to mid-green elliptical leathery leaves and when in bloom the plant is literally smothered by the orange and yellow flowers from summer through fall. The flowers, in opposite 4-6 inch long horizontally held clusters, lack petals but have extremely long stamens that emerge from small tight yellow buds into a flush of toothbrush-like flowers, first yellow then aging to orange. A succession of bloom occurs so that the vine has a multi-colored appearance after which 4-winged red fruit are sometimes produced.

Plant in full to part day sun with regular to occasional irrigation. It is hardy and evergreen to 26 F but can tolerate short duration temperatures to below 20 F with a little damage and some report it can tolerate temperatures as low as 10 F. A great vine with support for a fence or as a large espalier or even pruned unsupported as a shrub. The entrance to the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia was graced by a beautiful espaliered specimen of this plant and there is a nice plantings of it at Lotusland and at the South Coast Botanic Garden.

Combretum fruticosum is a forest liana native to southern Mexico south through central America to northern South America. Peter (Pehr) Loefling (1727(9)-1756), a Spanish-American botanist, first described it as Gaura fruticosa (now the name for a genus of North American plants in the Onagraceae) but Loefling also described the genus Combretum, using the Latin name used by Plinius to describe an unknown vine or medicinal herb. Loefling was a pupil of Linnaeus and his death in South America in 1756 was considered by Linnaeus to be a great loss to the study of botany.

The German botanist August W. Eichler in his 1867 revision of the Brazilian species of the genus honored Loefling by naming it Combretum loeflingii, but since Loefling had previously described the plant using the epithet "fruticosum", this name takes precedence and stands as the valid name. This name was first published in The Bureau of Plant Industries (USDA) Inventory of Seeds in 1914 and it was first listed as their introduction BPI42526 in 1916. The specific epithet is Latin for "bushy" or "shrubby" in reference to the habit of the plant. This plant is also sometimes commonly called the Chameleon vine for the way the flowers change from yellow to nearly red.

We first acquired our cutting stock of this plant from Monrovia Nursery and listed it in our 1983-1987 catalogs. Though we still had garden plants to cut from, our cuttings refused to root, and we were forced to discontinue offering this plant in 1988. In 1997 we collected a fruit capsule from a plant growing in the Santa Barbara garden of the late Jim Pine from which we grew a single seedling plant. This seedling first flowered 8 years later in the summer of 2005 and this plant, maintained as cutting stock in our greenhouse, has provided us with the cuttings grown plants we began selling in 2006. In 2014 and again in 2015 we were given seed by the South Coast Botanic Gardens and this has allowed us to continue growing this dramatic and attractive looking plant. 

This information about Combretum fruticosum 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.