Pyrostegia venusta

Japanese honeysuckle


Pyrostegia venusta

(Ker Gawl.) Miers 1863

pronounced: py-roh-STEG-ee-uh ven-NUSS-tuh

(Bignoniaceae — the jacaranda family)

common names: honeysuckle, Japanese honeysuckle, orange trumpet creeper

Pyrostegia is from the Greek πυρ (pyr), fire, and στεγη (stegé), a roof, referring to the colour of the flowers; venusta is from the Latin venustus, beautiful.

This plant is very common on Magnetic Island, and is generally referred to as ‘Japanese Honeysuckle’. It is, however, neither Japanese, nor a honeysuckle!

This is a vigorous, fast-growing, evergreen woody vine that blooms in winter and spring with spectacular reddish orange flowers. The compound leaves have two or three 5 – 7.5 cm oval leaflets, and are arranged in pairs opposite each other on the stem. Often the centre leaflet is modified into a coiled, 3-part tendril. It branches profusely, and climbs by clinging with its tendrils. A single plant can reach to about 30 m long.

The tubular flowers are about 7.5 cm long, and are borne in clusters at the tips of branches. The corolla has 5 lobes that are bent backwards, and the long orange stamens and style extend beyond the tube. The flower clusters may hang down under their own weight. The fruits are slender dry capsules about 30 cm long. The vine is native to southern Brazil, northern Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay.

It is easy to propagate from cuttings, and stems in contact with the ground may produce roots naturally. This plant is ideal to grow over a pergola, or along a strong fence. In tropical and sub-tropical areas, this is a fast and rampant grower, and, if not kept under control, can sometimes be so aggressive as to smother trees.

Vines like this one and, of course, honeysuckles, are particularly imposing in large gardens where they can be left free to grow in an unrestrained manner. They are perfect for climbing up walls, arches, gates, trellises, pergolas, arbours or old tree trunks equipped with wires or a wire mesh that will allow them to climb. Grown on a fence, they will form an attractive screen against wind, dust, and inquisitive passers-by. They can be grown on their own or combined with other climbers, such as a climbing rose. Most varieties require only light pruning for best results; but after several years they may begin to get bare at the base, and produce leaves and flowers only on the upper part of the plant. In order to counteract this, many gardeners carry out rejuvenating pruning every 5 or 6 years. They usually spread the task over 2 years, each year cutting out half of the oldest stems at the base of the plant.


Photographs taken at Picnic Bay 2009, 2011
Page last updated 22nd March 2019