Rhodochiton atrosanguineus

The protected bays between the glasshouses that project south from the connecting corridor are great to rummage through in search of a late flower fix. Running alongside the eastern tropics of the Rainforests display we have been growing the annual Mexican twining plant, Rhodochiton atrosanguineus which will stay in flower until clobbered by frost.
The leaves are delightfully heart-shaped and run close along the twining stems. The flowers dangle down and enlarge as they age so from the tip of the stem you can follow the flowering sequence back through time: the newest are the smallest, bundles of mauve pink buds, but then the calyces inflate into a rounded harebell shape as a long tubular flower proper in deep dark plum extends down, the tips of the petals overlapping and resembling a horse's muzzle - it is even velvety from fine silver hairs! The 'muzzle' opens out presumably when the flower is receptive, after which the protective parasol of the calyx starts to pucker and whither.

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