THE SNAIL VINE - Vigna caracalla


Although the common name 'Snail Vine' isn't the most appealing, it is appropriate. However, the snail-like flowers of Vigna caracalla do not represent the the body of the mollusc (that wouldn't be particularly attractive), instead the juvenile flowers have a striking similarity to the snail's shell. In fact the species name 'caracalla' is a corruption of the Portuguese word 'caracol', meaning snail.

THE SNAIL VINE - Vigna caracalla
So beautiful are that Thomas Jefferson (American Founding Father, principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the third President of the United States) was moved to call this plant '...the most beautiful bean in the world...'

Native to tropical South America and Central America, this perennial climber produces fragrant flowers in late summer or autumn and are said to be reminiscent of hyacinths.

The reason why the snail vine has evolved such an unusually shaped flower maybe down to its preferred pollinator. Unlike most other flowering plants that are pollinated by flying insects such as bees and butterflies, the snail vine is pollinated by ants!

The snail vine is from the Leguminosae family so unsurprisingly the seeds grow inside pods, like pea pods. If you wish to germinate these seeds then the pods should be removed from the plant while they are still green and brought under warm, dry conditions to prevent exposure to winter temperatures.

For related articles click onto the following link:
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HOW TO GROW THE SNAIL VINE FROM SEED
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STURT'S DESERT PEA - Clianthus formosus
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THE SNAIL VINE - Vigna caracalla
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