Antigonon leptopus

coral vine


Antigonon leptopus

Hook. & Arn. 1838

pronounced: an-TIG-oh-non LEP-toh-puss

(Polygonaceae — the dock family)


common names: coral vine, chain of love

 Antigonon comes from two Greek words, αντι (anti), opposite, and γωνια (gonia), an angle. Leptopus is also from the Greek, λεπτος (leptos), slender and ποδος (podos), of a foot, no doubt referring to the twisting stems and the tendrils.

This fast-growing, evergreen (in frost-free areas) vine is a native of Mexico. It climbs with hooked tendrils and can reach up to about 13 m high. It will climb up, over and upon anything nearby! It is propagated either by cuttings or by seed. Although it will grow in almost any soil, it blooms best in full sun, and is fairly drought-tolerant. The stems are angular.

The leaves are dark green, cordate to sagittate, with wavy margins, growing up to about 12 cm long. There are prominent veins on the upper surface.

The tubers and flowers of Antigonon leptopus are consumed as food in several parts of the world, especially in its native Mexico. The aerial portion, including flowers, is used in the preparation of a tea used as a cold remedy.

From midsummer to autumn, the plant is adorned with masses of small bright rose pink flowers up to about 3 cm long. They grow in sprays at the ends of the shoots, with each spray ending in a tendril. The actual flowers are tiny, but the sepals are larger and provide the brilliant colours. Apart from the rose pink ‘normal’ coral vine, there are varieties that range from white to deep coral.

Coral vine is beautiful and easy to grow. Its rapid growth rate and thick, luxuriant foliage make it a good candidate for screening unsightly views. The abundant and brilliantly beautiful flowers attract hordes of butterflies.

Garden escapees of this plant are to be seen in many places around Magnetic Island, and there is a danger of its becoming an invasive exotic weed. This has already happened in parts of Florida, where it is feared it might replace native species. It certainly looks as if it is taking over the section of hillside in the photograph. In this position, I must say that it is much prettier than the plants it is replacing!


Information about medicinal qualities of plants, or about their use as medicines, is for interest only, and is not intended to be used as a guide for the treatment of medical conditions.


Photographs taken 2009, Picnic Bay and Nelly Bay
Page last updated 10th October 2018