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Red Butterfly Wing, Mariposa

Christia vespertilionis


Family: Faboideae / Leguminosae / Papilionaceae Swallowtail small shrub 2-5 ft, semi-shade, regular water, ornamental foliage, Leaves have shape of butterfly wings. Species and varieties: Christia obcordata , Christia vespertilionis Botanical Name: Christia vespertilionis (synonym: Hedysarum vespertilionis, Lourea vespertilionis) Common Name: Mariposa, Red Butterfly Wing, Island Pea, Aircraft/Bat Grass Family name: Fabaceae/Leguminosae Plant type: An ornamental herbaceous shrub, originating from Southeast Asia and Brazil Light: Prefers sunlight for best foliage colour though can tolerate semi-shade to full-shade. Moisture: Needs regular water for optimum growth Soil: Grows best in well-drained loamy soil. Propagation: Can be propagated from herbaceous stem cuttings or germination of seeds (remove dried seed heads from plant, break open and scatter on moist potting mix). Or allow the plant to self-sow – we weren’t surprised by the many seedlings found sprouting around the parent plant or elsewhere in surrounding pots (the image above showing a self-seeded plant is a good example!) Features: Christia vespertilionis and other plants in our garden A deciduous annual or perennial shrub reaching a height of about 60-120cm and width of 50cm. Though seemingly fragile as a spindly plant and needs staking when it becomes too tall, it is robust and sways with the wind unscathed! Christia vespertilionis is grown for its beautiful variegated foliage. Leaves held on thin wiry petioles are in rare burgundy red tones and prominently veined in medium shades of pink. Sizes vary from 5-9cm at its broadest and are uniquely patterned like beautiful wings of a butterfly or wingspan of an aircraft or even resembling a swallow with spread wings. No wonder, this lovely plant is commonly named Butterfly Wing, Aircraft Grass or Bat Grass. Leaves hang downward (droop) during the night. Inconspicuous and small white or off-white flowers and seeds appear on slender raceme of 5-15cm lengths at terminal growth. Christia vespertilionis, self-seeded and happily sharing pot space with a Croton that was propagated from stem cutting. Captured in September 24, 2007Usage: Red Butterfly Wing plant is most ideal in garden beds and borders to add variety, color and height.


namitha 11 years ago

Cool spotting Susan, I have seen this plant in my neighbour's house. It has always amused me.

SusanEllison 11 years ago

thanks C. Daehler

Spotted by

Ipoh, Malaysia

Spotted on Nov 19, 2012
Submitted on Nov 26, 2012

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