Thunbergia mysorensis

lady slipper creeper


Thunbergia mysorensis

(Wight) T.Anderson 1867

pronounced: thun-BER-ghee-uh my-sor-EN-siss

(Acanthaceae — the black-eyed Susan family)


common names: lady slipper creeper, dolls' shoes, clock vine

Thunbergia was named for Carl Peter Thunberg (1743–1828), a Swedish naturalist who has been called ‘the father of South African botany’ and the ‘Japanese Linnaeus’. Mysorensis is botanical Latin for ‘from Mysore’, in India.

This plant, when in flower, is possibly the most beautiful vine of them all. It comes from tropical mountain slopes in the south of India. The evergreen, woody-stemmed climber can climb up to about 6 m, and has narrow leaves, up to about 15 cm in length, and a handsome dark glossy green, with toothed margins.

The exotic flowers are in chains of spectacular pendant racemes up to 30 cm long, and have russet red bracteoles that enclose the yellow bud. The calyx is annular, 10–12-toothed, and small. The corolla is yellow. There are 4 stamens, the anthers bearded and spurred at the base. The ovary is 2-loculed with each locule containing two ovules, and the stigma is infundibuliform. The mouths of the flowers open out widely. In our climate it is a winter flowerer, and looks best on a tall arbour.

The flowers act as receptacles for rain, which then mixes with nectar and pollen to produce a sweet drink that is very popular with small birds and butterflies.

In cooler climates, the vine is often grown in greenhouses and trained up on to the rafters, so that the inflorescences can hang overhead. It is sometimes grown as a house plant, in a sunny window – it does best when it has some sunlight. The plant is light-sensitive, and the shortening winter days stimulate the flowering.

The plant is easy to grow, enjoying full sun to partly shaded places in any well-drained soil. Propagation is also quite easy through cuttings.


Photographs taken at Picnic Bay 2009-2014
Page last updated 20th April 2019