Friends Jen and Dave are having a great time in Vietnam, and Jen has been ‘plant spotting’. She’s sent me some exotic specimens to name and this began with a bit of a mystery. The picture below appears to show a sign with some plant names on it in English.

image2Jen assumed this related to the plant picture below, but was puzzled at the (misspelled) reference to Thuinbergia, so I set out to investigate further…


Strongylodon macrobotrys

Jen mentioned that the plant and sign in question were at a monastery in De Lat, which helped me to search online. Here I found a picture of the same plant, but with its correct names of Jade Vine (sometimes also called Tigers’ Teeth); a native of the Philippines, but there are examples in the UK at Cambridge Botanic Garden, Kew and the Eden Project. Interestingly it’s propagated by bats! The botanical name is Strongylodon macrobotrys; and so, not a hint of Thunbergia!

Well, it turns out that another plant nearby (see below), apparently popular in De Lat, is Thunbergia mysorensis (again ‘lost in translation’ on the sign) or its common name of Mysore Trumpet Vine. So, a case of poor sign placement (it looks like its been strapped to a pillar after being in the ground), as well as incorrect botany (incidentally Thunbergia are part of the Acanthaceae family, so that might explain that bit of the sign- but once more, misspelled!).

Thunbergia mysorensis

Thunbergia mysorensis

Another of Jen’s pictures is of the Torch Ginger (Etlingera elatior), a plant used in cooking (especially fresh fish).

Etlingera elatior

Etlingera elatior

I’m still working on identifying the other six plants Jen sent me, but will hopefully crack the mystery in the next few days…look out for further episodes of a Select Vietnamese Flora!

Old School Gardener