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A deciduous climber of vigorous habit forming a stout main stem, and growing at least 30 to 40 ft high; it climbs by means of aerial roots like an ivy; young stems glabrous. Leaves pinnate, 6 to 15 in. long, composed of seven to eleven leaflets, which are ovate, 3⁄4 to 4 in. long, 1⁄4 to 2 in. wide; coarsely and angularly toothed, with a long, often tail-like point; glabrous and dark green above, downy beneath, especially along the midrib and veins. Flowers produced in August and September, each on a short stout stalk, in a cluster at the end of the current season’s growth, four to twelve flowers together. Corolla rich scarlet and orange, trumpet-shaped, 21⁄2 to 3 in. long, 11⁄2 in. wide at the mouth, where are five broad, short, rounded lobes. Calyx bell-shaped, 5⁄8 in. long, with triangular teeth. Pod spindle-shaped, stout, 5 in. long, 3⁄4 in. wide in the middle.
Native of the south-eastern United States. The gorgeous beauty of this climber must early have attracted the notice of the first settlers, for it was cultivated in England in 1640. It can be planted against buildings, to which it will attach itself by aerial roots from the stems, but usually needs support from nails as well. Flowering as it does in late summer on the growths of the year, it should be pruned back every spring. It is hardy enough to be grown in the open ground at Kew, but the growths are so long that even pruned back annually it is of ungainly habit and unsuited for the open border. Very rarely, but sometimes after unusually hot summers, it develops its conspicuous brown pods, full of flattened seeds with silvery transparent wings.
† f. flava (Bosse) Rehd. – Flowers yellow. A selection with deep yellow flowers received an Award of Merit in 1969.