Ruellia bignoniiflora

OK, scratch all those other pages in which I claim favoritism for some other species of Ruellia – THIS by far has to be the coolest!  The corollas of Ruellia bignoniiflora/megachlamys, a tropical African endemic, reach to 13 cm long. Yes, oh yes. That is approximately the length of your palm + fingers. I don’t even know how that works, biomechanically. Wouldn’t the corolla just tip over, with the weight of nectar, etc.?

This plant flowers at night and is almost certainly (or used to be) pollinated by nocturnal lepidopterans. Like most Acanths, the flowers don’t produce any odor… at least not one discernable by the human nose. Pollinated ovaries ripen into a cute, fat little fruit, which takes a surprisingly long time to mature. This species likes to vine, placing it among the few in the genus that make their way by scrambling from place to place…

Cultivated (RSABG Greenhouses), originally from Ethiopia, Tripp & Ly #958 (RSA-POM); Photo by Erin Tripp

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