Muhlenbeckia Complexa - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Muhlenbeckia Complexa Described.
Muhlenbeckia Complexa -
Nat. Ord. Polygonaceæ.
A hardy climber, of great beauty; during November its nearly black stems are
well furnished with its peculiar small dark green leaves, which, even when without
flowers or fruit, render it an object of first-class merit as a decorative subject.
The illustration is fairly representative of all its parts; still,
it can give no idea of the effect of a specimen climbing 4ft. to 6ft. high, diffuse
and spreading withal. Although I have grown this handsome climber several years,
my experience and information respecting it are very limited indeed; its hardiness
and beauty are the inducements which have led me to recommend it for the pleasure
garden. As a matter of fact, I have never bloomed it, and I am indebted to a
lady for the wax-like and flower-shaped fruits illustrated; they were produced
in a warm vinery, and I have otherwise learned that in this climate the
plant only flowers outside during very warm summers. I have also information
from one of H. M. Botanic Gardens that this species "was introduced from
South America, but when and by whom I am unable to say. It requires a warm, sheltered
position. Before the severe winters came it used to be covered with star-like
whitish flowers, which were succeeded by fruits."
The fruits given in the illustration (natural size) are a fine feature, but,
considering the uncertainty of their production, they can hardly be claimed for
outside decoration. They are of a transparent, wax-like substance, and the tooth-like
divisions glisten like miniature icicles; they hang in small clusters on lateral
shoots from the more ripened stems, and have a charming effect, contrasting finely
with the black stems and dark green foliage. The leaves are small (¼in.
to ¾in. across) somewhat fiddle-shaped, of good substance, and having
slender stalks; they are alternate and distantly arranged on the long trailing
and climbing stems. The habit is dense and diffuse, and though it loses many
leaves in winter, I have never seen it entirely bare; it is therefore entitled
to be called evergreen with outdoor treatment. The distinct form and colour of
its foliage, together with the graceful shape of the spray-like branches, render
this subject of great value for cutting purposes. Seen in company, and used sparingly
with white flowers for epergne work, the effect is unique; and I ask those who
possess it to try it in that or a similar way.
It enjoys a sunny position and well drained or sandy soil. With me it grows
entangled with a rose tree, the latter being nailed to the wall. I have also
seen it very effective on the upper and drier parts of rockwork, where it can
have nothing to cling to; there it forms a dense prostrate bush. It may be propagated
by cuttings of the hardier shoots, which should be taken in early summer; by
this method they become nicely rooted before winter.
Flowering periods, warm summers.
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