Plant Answers  >  BUTTERFLY VINE (Mascagnia macroptera)

(Mascagnia macroptera)

The Butterfly Vine gets its name from the seed pods which resemble a butterfly. Notice the green (immature seed) and brown (mature) butterfly shaped seed

The great thing about the Butterfly Vine is it has several maturities of seed pods at the same time it is in full bloom.

The Butterfly Vine blooms and makes butterfly-shaped seed pods from early spring until late fall.

The green butterfly seed pods hide amongst the shiny green foliage and the beautiful yellow blooms.

The Butterfly Vine is a summer bloomer along side the Pride of Barbados at the San Antonio Garden.

The clusters of dainty flowers on butterfly vine shine as brilliant as the summer sun. But it's the seed pods that give the plant its name.

During summer, chartreuse 'wings' unfold on the seed pods that look like butterflies. The papery pods will turn tan to brown as they mature, and they can be harvested and planted.

In mild winters, the vine will retain its gloss green foliage. It will die back and resprout in spring after a cold winter.

The plant recently was renamed; it previously was classified as Stigmaphyllon ciliatum.

Light: Sun to partial shade.

Size: 15 to 20 feet tall and wide.

Water: Moderate.

Bloom: Spring to fall.

Cultivation: Prefers rich, well-drained soil. Plant the frost-tender vine on the south or east side for winter protection.

Name: Mascagnia macroptera

Common name: Yellow butterfly vine. This name comes from the greenish, butterfly-shaped seedpods the plant produces (but it attracts butterflies, too).

Description: Fast-growing vine that reaches 10-12 feet high. It
produces clusters of bright-yellow flowers from spring to frost. While
many other plants are touted as spring-to-frost bloomers, this one is the real deal. Evergreen vine that will easily train itself to a trellis or fence. If left unsupported, this plant will twine on itself to produce a mounding shrub or even a groundcover. This is fairly drought tolerant but looks much better with regular watering through the dry season.

Range/Origin: Mexico; This plant is often listed as being from Central America but it grows as far south as Brazil. It was in fact noted by Joseph Banks at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1768).

Uses: With great heat tolerance, it's well-suited for sites with western exposures. Grow it against walls, on arbors and against mailboxes and light posts. Another great attribute is the plant's incredible heat tolerance. It's virtually impervious to the baking sun and well-suited for west-facing walls and places that receive reflected heat in summer. It's a fast grower, reaching 10-12 feet high, and also grows in partial shade.

Maintenance: Little required

Hardiness: M. macroptera is considered hardy just to USDA Hardiness
Zone 8, but could survive Zone 7 if planted in a protected spot.
However, with its fast growth, it's also a good candidate as an annual vine in Northern climates. It would easily reach heights in a few months that could be enjoyed by homeowners before being killed by winter freezes.

Propagation: Easy from seed or softwood cuttings. From softwood cuttings, plants can be rooted and finished in just three months -- and they can be shipped in flower. These plants can be transplanted into gallon containers and finished in as little as two weeks.

Mascagnia macroptera

This native of Mexico is an evergreen scrambling or trailing vine which can easily be pruned into a dwarf shrub form. Foliage is a rich dark green which provides a contrasting dark background for the beautiful bright yellow flowers. Mascagnia blooms profusely during the summer months from May to September. Flowers occur in clusters so plants are very colorful. Each orchid-like flower has five yellow petals and may be as large as 1 inch across. Plant Mascagnia in full sun to light shade. Water to get well- established, thereafter this plant will be very drought tolerant and require little care other than pruning to shape or contain. This vine is very heat tolerant but is best adapted to U.S.D.A. Zones 8-10 since it can be damaged by severe cold. For north Texas, use as a container plant for seasonal color. Yellow Butterfly Vine can be grown on any type of support like a fence, pole or stake. It is easily pruned into a shrub and can even be used as a ground cover. The unusual fruit resembles a green to brown butterfly, thus the common name.

Questions & Answers about Butterfly Vine:

I was given some seeds of the butterfly vine and would like to know how to plant them. Can you please tell me what I need to do to encourage them to spout?

I could not find any specific requirements for germination of the butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera) seed. Also I do not know how long you have had the seed or how you have stored them. I think that I would start by placing them in the refrigerator for about 6 weeks in an airtight container such as a zip-loc bag. Then I would take some of them and place them between moistened layers of paper towels, again placing them inside a zip-loc bag, and putting them in a warm location such as on a sunny window sill. After about 5 days inspect the seed daily and at the first showing of a root emerging, either plant them where you want them to grow or in 6" pot of good potting soil. Keep the soil moist, not wet and water as needed with a dilute strength water soluble fertilizer. I would take the other seed that you didn't put in the paper towels, soak them overnight in warm water, and plant them in the ground where you want them to grow. Again, keep the soil moist but not wet. They may or may not germinate. If you do not have success with getting the seed to germinate and grow, I would go back to the person who gave you the seed and ask for some cuttings. Softwood tip cuttings will root quite readily. See this PLANTanswers Web site for instructions rooting cuttings:

Can you suggest some evergreen, deer resistant vines we can plant in our yard? The area will be in the sun most of the day.

I don't know of any that the deer will not test for taste. However a couple that you might try to see if they are offensive to your deers' tastes are: Butterfly Vine (Mascagnia macroptera) and Cross Vine (Bignonia capreolata).

I am looking for different kinds of flowering vines that grow here in the San Antonio area.

There are a bunch of them including; Confederate Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), Butterfly Vine (Mascagnia macroptera), Coral Vine (Antigonon leptopus), Cross Vine (Bignonia capreolata), Pandora Vine (Pandorea jasminoides), Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans), Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata).


Story: Bringing "Flying Flowers" to Life

This story was in Birds&Blooms magazine about Juanita Brookins from San Antonio. It was submitted to by Gerda from Schertz, Texas.



Copyright © 2024 - All Rights Reserved. PLANTanswers and are trademarks of Jerry Parsons.