Thunbergia fragrans: Sweet clockvine

Family: Acanthaceae
Common name: Sweet clockvine, Whitelady, Forest thunbergia, White thunbergia

Though it’s a crime to call this plant a weed, it unfortunately is classified as an invasive weed in many countries. Sweet clockvine plants have long, slender stems that can grow to a length of 2 meters climbing on garden structures or surrounding vegetation whenever possible. They can also trail along the ground producing beautiful pristine white flowers that are surprisingly white, though it is very close to the ground.

They are cultivated as garden plants in tropical regions for their beautiful flowers. They can grow on roadsides, forest margins, agricultural land, unoccupied land and other disturbed areas very comfortably, since the species is very tenacious.

The stem has a square-shaped cross-section and has thin downy hair when they are young. The leaves are about 10 cms long, green, oppositely arranged with slightly pointed tips and toothed margins.

Sweet clockvine flowers are tubular with 5 distinct, broad, beautifully white overlapping petals. These flowers grow from the axils, the angle between stem and leaves either single or in pairs. The unique shape of the fruits is a distinguishing feature of these plants; with a rounded flattened base, and a beak-like tip.

Thunbergia is a species of beautiful flowering plants, most of them climbing vines or shrubs that can grow 2-8 meters tall. They are named after the Swedish naturalist Carl Peter Thunberg. Other Thunbergia species in India are Thunbergia erecta or Bush Clockvine and Thunbergia mysorensis or Mysore Clockvine.

Propagation is from seeds or stem cuttings.

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