Skyblue Clustervine

Skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos) flowers
Skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos) flowers

Description

Skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos) is an evergreen, perennial, vine that grows 20-30 feet in length. It is in the Convolvulaceae, morning glory or bindweed, family of plants.

Names

A Swiss botanist, J.D. Choisy (1833), in his monograph of Conulvulaceae created the genus Jacquemontia in honour of Victor Jacquemont, collected from South America … . [1]. Victor Jacquemont was a French naturalist (1801 – 1832).

Skyblue Clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos) single flower
Skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos)

Habitat

In nature it occurs in open forests and hammocks in south Florida. Though it is rarely actually found in nature there are documented specimens at the USF herbarium for Broward, Collier, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties.

Even though it is a south Florida plant it seems to grow quite well for me in central Florida.

Skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos) growing in the landscape as a living umbrella
Skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos) growing in the landscape as a living umbrella

Landscape Use

In the home landscape it can be grown in part shade to full sun.  If you don’t have a sunny location, the base of the vine can be planted in shade and it will climb upwards to reach sunlight.  It will find its way upwards to get enough light to produce flowers. It is a very strong climber and it twines around its supports very tightly. 

Skyblue clustervine doesn’t play well with others so it’s best planted on its own because the main stems grow thick and constrict tightly around whatever they use as a support. Its growth habit is almost identical to skunk vine (Paederia foetida) and it actually looks very similar (when not in bloom), except its leaves are alternate and evergreen.

It can be grown umbrella like … growing up and spreading out once it reaches the top of its support. It will tolerate being manicured and trimmed so it can be kept tidier than it generally grows, but it is an ongoing chore. Its growth potential is around twenty to thirty feet so it will make a rather large living umbrella.

I also plant mine at the base of running bamboo stalks and it climbs to the top, spreads out over the tops, and blooms.

It is native to Florida, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and Hawaii and can be grown in gardening zones 9 through 11.

Skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos) flower and leaf cutter bee
Skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos) flower and leaf cutter bee

Leaves

Skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos) leaves are alternate, with entire margins and are cordate in shape. They are 4-11 cm long and 3-6 cm wide with long petioles.

Skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos) view of the vine through a trellis
Skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos) view of the vine through a trellis

Flowers

The flowers are funnel shaped and a brilliant sky blue in color. The flower cymes (flower cluster) appear at the ends of long peduncles (stems) in clusters of eight to ten. The flowers appear in fall and winter in central Florida, although in south Florida it is said to bloom all year.

Skyblue clustervine flowers open in the morning and then begin to close by midday. 

Skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos) close-up of the twining stem
Skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos) close-up of the twining stem

Wildlife Use

Skyblue clustervine produces a great deal of nectar and pollen and is visited by bees and butterflies each morning when it is in bloom.

In the morning when the nectar is fresh the flowers are constantly visited by small bees and butterflies, but as the day progresses the pollinator traffic diminishes.  You can tell which honeybees have been on the clustervine all morning because they will have white pollen sacks instead of the usual yellow.

Seeds

The seeds are round capsules that contain four seeds and are ripe once they turn brown and easily break open at their sutures (a line of fusion).

Propagation

Propagation of skyblue clustervine is achieved by cuttings, seeds, and transplants.

Buy seeds here and starter plants here.

 

 

[1] Gupta, Raj Kumar (1966). “Botanical explorations of Victor Jacquemont (1801-1832)” (PDF). Indian Journal of History of Science. 1 (2): 150–157.