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Quisqualis flowers

Why Quisqualis?

Translated from the Latin, Quisqualis means Who? What? A fine definition of curiosity. That is what this site is about, curiosity. Can I find it? Can I make it work in my life? How do they do it "there"? How can I make or find or do ...? Not a bad approach, but it could be daunting.

What is Quisqualis?

Botanically, Quisqualis indica is the Rangoon creeper. This large growing vine spends the start of its life as a bush. In the early days one plant explorer would send samples of leaves, stem and flower to his sponsor and describe the plant as a bush. A second explorer would collect the same samples and send them in described as a vine. It also develops spines as it ages. To add to the confusion, Quisqualis flowers open white and age to red! Eventually a taxonomist, with a sense of humor, must have scratched his head and named the mixed samples "Quisqualis."

Quisqualis indica COMBRETACEAE

From southern Asia the Rangoon creeper is a tender fast growing vining plant. The leaves are simple. An evergreen, its flowers are mostly present in summer and fall. The fragrant flowers open white, gradually turning pink then red as they age. The flower's fragrance is delightful. Some call it fruity, while others liken it to toasted coconut.

Quisqualis flowers 02

Seeds, when produced, are about 2 inches long and have five ridges. This makes them look quite a bit like a small carambola (starfruit). While propagation is usually listed as from cuttings and suckers, in my garden the seeds sprout fairly frequently. The seeds are described as a famine food by some, most list the plant as poisonous. Medicinal uses are also sometimes listed. I would not taste this plant's seeds without expert advice.

Quisqualis seed 01
Quisqualis seed 02
Quisqualis seed 03

The growth rate is generally fast, and the plant does not make heavy fertilizer demands. Quisqualis does like medium to bright light. Under good conditions it will be necessary to prune the plant to keep it in bounds. Under too right conditions the plant might become invasive. (I have never seen one as an escapee in Florida but have seen cases where a planting in a yard took over when neglected.) The unique fragrant color-changing white to red flowers and tropical nature make the plant ideal near a water feature. So make sure if you are planting the Quisqualis in your landscape, possibly as part of your Koi pond construction, that you keep up with the trimming so it doesn't completely take over your pond and garden.

Carp, Koi

The thorns on a Quisqualis are formed when a leaf drops but the petiole remains. In a little time this petiole stiffens, grows stronger, and becomes a very effective climbing hook. While not sharp, like a cactus thorn, these can make pruning a bit tedious, and can draw blood on impatient gardeners.

Under control, on a trellis or pergola or allowed to form a big mound Quisqualis can be a beautiful addition to a planting. But remember, more than a little frost will prune it down for you. The beauty, and mysteries, surrounding this plant have made it a necessity for my collection.

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