Merremia quinquefolia

snake vine


Merremia quinquefolia

(L.) Hallier f. 1893

pronounced: me-REE-mee-uh quin-quah-FOH-lee-uh

(Convolvulaceae — the morning glory family)


common name: snake vine

Merremia commemorates a German naturalist (with an emphasis on ornithology), Blasius Merrem (1761–1824) who was a professor of mathematics and physics at Duisburg in the Rhineland-of-North-Westphalia, Germany. His Tentamen Systematis Naturalis Avium on bird classification is still highly regarded today. Quinquefolia means ‘five leaves’.

This is a genus of herbs or shrubs, often twining, but sometimes prostrate. The leaves are usually petiolate, rarely sessile, with margins entire, dentate, or palmately or pedately lobed, or compound.

The flowers are axillary, solitary or in few-to-many flowered, variously branched cymose inflorescences. The bracts are usually small. The sepals are variable in shape, and often enlarged in fruit. The corolla is often yellow or white, sometimes with a darker centre, infundibuliform or campanulate, usually glabrous. The stamens are included, often unequal, and the anthers are often spirally twisted. The capsule is 1–4-loculed.

There are approximately 80 species, found in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America. 19 species are found in China.
Snakevine is another of the numerous vines that climb over other roadside and trackside plants on Magnetic Island. It is not as noticeable as some of the more flamboyant vines, having only small white flowers.

The leaves are quite distinctive, being palmately compound with 5 leaflets, oblong to lanceolate, with one leaflet much larger than the others, and the others paired in decreasing sizes. The petioles are 2 – 5 (rarely 9) cm in length. The leaflet margins are either entire, or have small indentations.

The flowers are tubular, the corolla white or pale cream to about 1.5 cm in diameter.

The fruit is a 4-valved globose papery capsule with persistent sepals, about a centimetre along. The 4 seeds are about 4.5 mm long, shortly curled-pilose, and blackish in colour.


An Essay on the Natural System of Birds


Photographs taken on the Picnic Bay - Nelly Bay road, 2009, 2010
Page last updated 5th February 2019