A Pearl of a Vine

Once again, nature has brought me a gift — one of my favorite vines, and one that I’ve only ever seen in the wild. So I guess it’s fitting that I found it in the wild portion of my yard. Thank you, wind or mammal, whichever of you that brought this seed to my garden!


This lovely plant is called Green Milkweed Vine (Matelea reticulata) by some, but I prefer to call it by its other common name, Pearl Milkweed Vine. That shiny little center spot looks too much like a pearl to not include it in the name.

The vine will, in fact, ooze a milky sap if a leaf is broken off. If you are wondering whether it is a Monarch/Queen host plant, given that it is a Milkweed, some online sources indicate that it is indeed one, albeit a minor food source for them, perhaps. Personally, I haven’t yet seen a caterpillar on it.


This vine is more dainty than bold, and it’s easy to pass right by it when walking in the woods. But once you catch a glimpse of its shiny littleĀ pearls, it’s mesmerizing. Mine is currently twined around a bunch grass — and annoyingly, some hackberry sprouts — but it’s growing well. I haven’t actually found the base of the vine yet — I’m so protective of it that I barely want to mess with the tangle.pearlmilkvineC05-29-13

The leaves of the Pearl Milkweed Vine are heart-shaped, and when it’s time to go to seed, this dainty vine will actually produce a whopper of a seed pod, much like its Milkweed cousins. Inside will be many seeds with silky fibers to aid in dispersal. I can’t wait!

Go Orange

Purely by accident, my photos of the day are showing off the warm colors of the season. How perfect as we transition from late summer to fall. I might as well confess that I’m a Longhorn fan, too — so “Go Orange” has multiple meanings this time around. But red and yellow, count, too. They, after all, combine to make orange. All in the realm of warm!

I’ve been waiting all year for my Exotic Love Vine to bloom, a plant I… ahem… fell in love with during my trip to Mexico last fall.

lovevine09-09-10.jpgJust before the rains from Hermine arrived this past week, evidence of blooms first appeared on a vine stem, and happily the steady downpours did not hurt the blossoms before I could get a picture. I do hope that soon our wonderful plant will be covered in these vibrant flowers.

The plentiful rains have encouraged other freshly-hydrated plants to bloom, and the garden is filled with new buds all over. The Texas Lantana is bright with color, and the butterflies are flocking back to it. Here’s a Gulf Fritillary, blending in so nicely with the orange and yellow flowers.


Our young pomegranate tree has three lovely fruit on it. Though I might wish for more, I’m thrilled that we’d have even three fruit in our first year of having the tree. I can’t wait for them to ripen.

At the pond, a fiery Flame Skimmer stands out against the green bog-loving plants.

And the Blackfoot Daisies have revived along the garden path. I like the way they provide a nice look against the decomposed granite.

It occurs to me that this time last year I was eagerly watching our pumpkins turn from green to orange. Clearly this is not a new theme. But it certainly is a mood-boosting one!

And just to mention it, our new decomposed-granite (and orange-ish!) garden path held up quite well in the heavy rains. No mush! The only area that we’ll need to touch up is a portion of the upper pathway, where compaction was at a minimum, and that’s our fault for not giving it the equal time that we did to the rest of the garden path. That the overall pathway stood the test of a major flood-causing rain lets me know that we made a good choice on our plan. Still, we’ll make the minor repairs to the upper pathway and determine how best to guide waterflow just off to the side a bit, where the garden itself can absorb the excess water.

Go orange!

Passiflora lutea, Yellow Passionflower

Oh, hey, it’s raining. And I know why. It’s because it’s my watering day (city schedule), and I actually took the time to water this morning. You know what happened last time I took the time to water? Yep, it rained. Yes, Murphy’s Law continues to be in full effect at Great Stems. Also, my son left the electric mower out in the backyard, with the cord still plugged in. That perhaps added to the rain potential. I know I’m repeating myself about this, but hey, whatever it takes to get some rain around here!

Regardless of my pitiful attempt to water this morning, my plants needed the extra drink from the rain and the overcast relief from the 100+ weather and full Texas sun we’ve had lately. The plants I didn’t get to water are right now grateful that nature took pity on them, since I melted in the morning heat and had to stop.

Today I want to highlight a happy little vine I’ve found growing and blooming in my yard. This is one of our native Passionvines — Passiflora lutea — also known as Yellow Passionflower.

passiluteaa08-11-10.jpgIt puts out this adorable miniature version of the larger, better known Passionvine flower, with yellow-green as its primary color. The flower is about 1/2 inch in diameter. Just as cute as a button!

passiluteab08-11-10.jpgThe leaves of the Yellow Passionflower are gently three-lobed and easy to distinguish. They are hosts to many butterfly species — including fritillary and longwing species.

passiluteac08-11-10.jpgAs is often my luck, or more Murphy’s Law perhaps, the Yellow Passionflower plants I actually purchased are very small, while the largest vine on the property is the one that just showed up on its own. I’ve already seen a fritillary caterpillar on one of them — yay.

The larger Passionflower below, Passiflora incarnata Passiflora caerulea, is certainly more showy than its cousin, but I am delighted to have both (Edit: Apparently my plant is Blue Passionflower, Passiflora caerulea, not the native incarnata/Maypop variety I once thought it was. Thanks for the correction, Scott! It sounds like Blue Passionflower is a good vine to keep, so I’m happy to do so.).


I’m trying to collect other varieties of native passionflower, but so far Passiflora lutea is the only one I can say I’m successfully growing. Of course, I have several unidentified vines in the backyard. Perhaps one of them is another passionflower!

Note: I just attempted to go out to take some pictures of the little passionflower vine in the rain. It started raining harder. Gotta love Murphy.