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Muhlenbeckia Complexa - Hardy Perennial

Author: John Wood

Muhlenbeckia Complexa - Hardy Perennials and Old Fashioned Flowers

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.

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Muhlenbeckia Complexa

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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