Campsis x tagliabuana

trumpet creeper


Campsis X tagliabuana 'Madame Galen'

(Vis.) Render 1932

pronounced: KAMP-s-ss hybrid tag-lee-ah-boo-AH-nuh Madame Galen

(Bignoniaceae — the jacaranda family)


common name: trumpet creeper

Campsis is derived from the Greek καμψις (kampsis), bending, curved, referring to the curved stamens of the flowers. Tagliabuana is so named because the hybrid was discovered by the Italian botanist Roberto de Visiani (1800-1878) at the Tagliabue Nursery, in Lainate, near Milan. The hybrid is a cross between Campsis grandiflora (Chinese Trumpet Vine) and Campsis radicans (American Trumpet Vine). It has the large flower size of Campsis grandiflora and the hardiness of Campsis radicans. I do not know who Madame Galen was, but the cultivar named for her is reckoned to be the hardiest, and is the one most frequently grown. It is an old stager, having been produced in 1889. ‘Indian Summer’ is another popular cultivar: it has orange flowers with red throats.

Although the vine looks tropically exotic, it is, in fact, grown extensively in temperate climates – the leaves will be frost-bitten at 0ºC, but the plant will not usually die off until the temperature falls to –15ºC.

This plant climbs vigorously, to a height of up to about 10 m, with aerial roots like those of ivy, and will spread to 3 or 4 m. It is woody-stemmed, and bears deeply-veined dark green leaves and loose, drooping cymes of brilliant salmon-orange trumpet-shaped flowers up to about 7 cm long, in clusters of 6 – 12 flowers. The leaves are deciduous, compound, odd-pinnate to 50 cm long, and each leaf has 7 – 11 ovate to lanceolate leaflets. The foliage grows well in shade, but plants need good sun for best flowering.

After the flowers come long bean-like seed pods that split open when ripe, releasing numerous 2-winged seeds for dispersal by the wind. The trouble with the plant is usually not how to grow it, but how to restrain it. The flowers bloom on new growth, so early spring pruning will not affect the flowering. Vines should be grown on sturdy structures that will be able to support the rather heavy weight of mature plants. This hybrid is an invasive and aggressive plant that suckers from underground runners, and also self-seeds, so planting sites should be carefully chosen, so that it cannot easily spread. If plants are dug up, any small piece of root left in the ground will sprout to produce a new plant. Trumpet Creeper needs lots of room. It can easily become top-heavy if not thinned: many gardeners prune it heavily in spring.

The flowers are very attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.


Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2010-2013
Page last updated 27th October 2018