Saturday, July 20, 2013

Argyreia nervosa - Elephant Vine

Argyreia nervosa, or commonly called names such as elephant vine, silver or wooly morning glory. The flowers are reminiscent of morning glories and it is actually a member of the Convolvulaceae family. This includes the edible leaves of the water convolvulus, known locally as kangkong, which is delicious when stir-fried with shrimp paste (belacan).

This perennial vine is a robust climber and grow rapidly, producing large leathery leaves.

The young silvery shoots of this creeper can extend about a foot daily. I had nails hammered into this external wall, all the way up to the first floor balcony to help it to clamber up.


  Argyreia nervosa seems to have unlimited growth. Right after pruning, it grows quickly to cover up the wall and spill into the balcony.

Argyreia nervosa has a velvety texture. The new growth of this vine is silver and densely covered with fine, silky hairs, giving it the appearance of been silver-plated.

The silvery young leaf can be inserted between the pages of a thick book to obtain a well preserved pressed leaf. 


The mature leaves are heart-shaped and have a light velvety feel due to the presence of hairs.

The purple-lavender flowers add interest by breaking the monotony of the large background of thick green foliage.

The off-white sepals are frilly like delicate lace.


The trumpet-like flowers are produced at the vine tips. Hence for the blooms to flourish, I have to exercise restraint when pruning. Most of the time they are left to grow freely until they reach a state resembling the wilderness in my balcony.

Carpenter bees are frequent visitors.
The flowers of the Elephant Vine are thick with larger tubules to accomodate  the bulky Carpenter bees unlike  ... 

  the more delicate flowers of Thunbergia grandiflora.

Sometimes when the Carpenter bee is too large for the tubular part of the Thunbergia grandiflora flower, or just being clumsy, the flower gets torn and tattered. This is evidenced from the condition of the two flowers on the right.

Unlike the flowers of Thunbergia grandiflora, the Argyreia nervosa flowers are generally still in pristine condition after the 'rough and tumble' visit from the bees.

This is seen somewhere outside an housing area in Kuala Lumpur (Vasana 25) - a cascade of Elephant Vine flowers tumbling down a hill slope and retaining wall.


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