(Tecoma radicans) Trumpet-creeper family

Flowers - Red and veined within, paler and inclined toward tawny

without, trumpet-shaped, about 2 1/2 in. long, the limb with 5

rounded lobes; 2 to 9 flowers in the terminal clusters;

anther-bearing stamens 4, in pairs, under upper part of tube; 1

pistil. Stem: A woody vine 20 to 40 ft. long, prstrate or

climbing. Leaves: Opposite, pinnately compounded of 7 to 11

ovate, saw-edged leaflets.

Preferred Habitat - Moist, rich woods and thickets.

Flowering Season - August-September.

Distribution - New Jersey and Pennsylvania, westward to Illinois,

and soutb to the Gulf States. Occasionally escaped from gardens

farther north.

>From early May untll the middle of October, the ruby-throated

hummingbird forsakes the tropics to spend the flowery months with

us. Which wild flowers undertake to feed him? Years before showy

flowers were brought from all corners of the earth to adorn our

gardens, about half a dozen natives in that parterre of Nature's

east of the Mississippi catered to him in orderly succeswsion. In

feasting at their board he could not choose but reciprocate the

favor by transferring their pollen as they took pains to arrange

matters. Nectar and tiny insects he is ever seeking. Of course

hundreds of flowers secrete nectar which taxes them little; and

while the vast majority of these are avowedly adapted to insect

benefactors; what is to prevent the bird's needle-like bill from

probing the sweets from most of them? Certain flowers dependent

on him, finding that the mere offering of nectar was not enough

to insure his fidelity, that he was constantly lured away, had to

offer some especially strong attractions to make his regular

visits sure. How did these learn that red is irresistibly

fascinating to him, and orange scarcely less so, perhaps for the

sake of the red that is mixed with the yellow? Today we find such

flowers as need him sorely, wearing his favorite colors. But even

this delicate attention is not enough. He demands that his

refreshments shall be reserved for him in a tube so deep or

inaccessible that, when he calls, he will find all he desires,

notwithstanding the occasional intrusion of such long-tongued

insects as bumblebees, butterflies, and moths. First the

long-spurred red and yellow columbine and the painted cup, then

the coral honeysuckle, jewelweed, trumpet-creeper, Oswego tea,

and cardinal flower have the honor of catering to the exacting

little sprite from spring to autumn. His sojourn in our gardens

is prolonged until his beloved gladioli, cannas, honeysuckles,

nasturtiums, and salvia succumb to frost.

Where a trumpet vine climbs with the help of its aerial roots,

like an ivy's, and sends forth clusters of brilliant tubes at the

tips of long, wiry branches, there one is sure to see sooner or

later, the ruby-throat flashing, whirring, darting from flower to

flower. Eight birds at once were counted about a vine one sunny

morning. The next, a pair of tame pigeons walked over the roof of

the summer-house where the creeper grew luxuriantly, and

punctured, with a pop that was distinctly heard fifty feet away,

the base of every newly opened nectar-filled trumpet on it! That

afternoon all the corollas discolored, and no hummers came near.


(Lonicera sempervirens) Honeysuckle family

Flowers - Red outside, orange yellow within; whorled round

terminal spikes. Calyx insignificant; corolla tubular, slender, 1

1/2 in. long or less, slightly spread below the 5-lobed limb; 5

stamens; 1 pistil. Stem: A high, twining vine. Leaves: Evergreen

in the South only; opposite, rounded oval, dark, shining green

above, the upper leaves united around the stem by their bases to

form a cup. Fruit: An interrupted spike of deep orange-red


Preferred Habitat - Rich, light, warm soil; hillsides, thickets.

Flowering Season - April-September.

Distribution - Connecticut, westward to Nebraska, and south to

the Gulf States. Occasionally escaped from cultivation farther


Small-flowered bush honeysuckles elected to serve and be served

by bees; those with longer tubes welcomed bumblebees; the white

and yellow flowered twining honeysuckles, deep of tube and

deliciously fragrant, especially after dark, when they are still

visible, cater to the sphinx moths (see sweet wild honeysuckle);

but surely the longest-tongued bumblebee could not plumb the

depths of this slender-tubed trumpet honeysuckle, nor the

night-flying moth discover a flower that has melted into the

prevailing darkness when he begins his rounds, and takes no pains

to guide him with perfume. What creature, then, does it cater to?

After reading of the aims of the trumpet-flower on the preceding

page, no one will be surprised to hear that the ruby-throated

hummingbird's visits are responsible for most of the berries that

follow these charming, generous, abundant flowers, so eminently

to his liking. Larger migrants than he, in search of fare so

attractive, distribute the seeds far and wide. Is any other

species more wholly dependent on birds?

TRUMPET TWINFLOWER GROUND VINE facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail