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A slender-stemmed prostrate or climbing evergreen shrub; young shoots densely clothed with short down. Leaves opposite, rather leathery, ovate or oval, pointed, rounded or tapered at the base, toothed, 1⁄2 to 7⁄8 in. long, 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 in. wide, dark glossy green and with short hairs above when young; pale, rather glaucous, more or less downy on the midrib beneath; stalk 1⁄16 in. long, downy. Flowers solitary on a slender downy stalk 1 to 11⁄2 in. long, produced from the axils of the leaves. Corolla rich scarlet, tubular, 1 to 11⁄4 in. long, 1⁄6 to 1⁄4 in. wide and rather bellied, downy. Sepals five, of unequal size, lanceolate, clasped on one side by downy bracts. Stamens four, the yellow anthers protruding beyond the corolla. Fruit an ovoid berry 3⁄8 in. wide, surmounted at first by the persistent style which is 11⁄2 in. long. Bot. Mag., t. 4462.
A native of Chile, mainly from Maulé province to the region of the Magellan Straits, and of bordering parts of Argentina; in Chile it is also found farther north in the remarkable relict forest of Fray Jorge, in Coquimbo province (30° 30′ to 30° 42′ S.); introduced by William Lobb for Messrs Veitch of Exeter in 1846. The brilliant red flowers of this creeper, with its neat, glossy foliage, are very attractive. It comes into blossom during May and June and continues more or less until autumn. It dislikes drought and hot sunshine. On wild specimens the leaves are often much larger than we are accustomed to see them on cultivated plants, sometimes 11⁄2 in. long and half as much wide.
M. coccinea can be grown out-of-doors south of London in a sheltered, moist position and moderate shade, and will flower quite well in such a position, but only in the rainier and more equable climate of the Atlantic counties and in Ireland does it really thrive and climb as it does in its native habitat (in the magnificent rain-forests south of Puerto Montt, where it luxuriates, the rainfall exceeds 100 in. per annum). At Rowallane in Co. Down it has reached 18 ft in height and more than that at Rossdohan in Co. Kerry, where it climbs up a fine specimen of Clethra arborea.