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This perennial woody vine is up to 40' long, branching occasionally. Trumpet Creeper usually climbs up trees, shrubs, telephone poles, and other vertical structures using aerial rootlets, otherwise it sprawls across the ground. Young shoots are greenish brown, but become brown and woody as they mature. Pairs of opposite compound leaves occur along the length of the vine. These compound leaves are odd pinnate, consisting of about 7-11 leaflets; they are up to 2½' long and ¾' across. The central stalk of each compound leaf is often hairy. The leaflets are up to 3" long and 1" across. They are ovate or elliptic, pinnately veined, and coarsely toothed along the margins. The upper surface of each leaflet is shiny and hairless, while the lower surface often has a few hairs along the major veins. Periodically, short cymes of 2-8 flowers are produced along the length of the vine. These flowers are up to 3½" long and have an elongated funnelform shape that is trumpet-like in appearance. The corolla is orange to reddish orange; along its outer rim there are 5 shallow lobes that curl backward. The tubular calyx is reddish orange, leathery in texture, and 5-toothed; it is much shorter than the corolla. Along the inner surface of the corolla, there are reddish lines that function as nectar guides and 4 inserted stamens. There are extra-floral nectaries at the base of each flower. The blooming period occurs during the summer and lasts about 2 months. The abundance of flowers is variable; there is no floral scent. Each flower is replaced by an elongated seed capsule about 6" long that tapers at both ends. This seed capsule eventually splits apart into two sections to release the seeds. The seeds are flattened and have large membranous wings; they are dispersed by the wind. The root system consists of a woody taproot.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers


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