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Bignonia capreolata

Common Name(s):
Cross vine, Trumpet flower
Tangerine Beauty - JC Raulston Arboretum Selection, Astrosanguinea , Jekyll, Velcy
Native Plants, Vines

Bignonia capreolata, commonly called Cross vine is a fast growing vine that can grow up to 30 to 50 feet tall.  It climbs by using tendrils to wrap around stems or bark to support the vine as it grows up tall objects like fences or pine trees.  The tendrils are part of a very unique evergreen leaf system.  The leaves are opposite, meaning where this is one on a stem there is another one exactly opposite at the same location on the stem.  They are also compound with two leaflets (this is the unique part as most compound leaves have 3 or more leaflets) and one tendril on each petiole (leaf stem).  The name comes from the cross pattern seen inside a cross section of the stem (pith).  Each leaflet is 3 to 5 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide.  As for color, in our area they are usually a dark, glossy green.  However in colder areas of its growing range the leaves may take on a reddish-purple color. 

This vine is native to the southeastern United States in USDA hardiness zones 6 – 9.  It can be found growing native in many soil types, and usually up other trees such as pines.    It tolerates a wide variety of conditions, including coastal conditions, but prefers an organically rich, well-drained soil in full sun.  Cross vine will grow well in shade to full sun, with better flower production the more sunlight it receives.

The flowers bloom in late winter to early spring on new wood in clusters of 2 to 5 flowers.  The flower color can range from orange and yellow to a reddish-orange color.  Some cultivated varieties have been selected for the deeper colors such as ‘Tangerine Beauty’.  Some of the native vines also have very attractive colors.  This early bloom season provides a nice stopping point for hummingbirds in the area.  The flowers are followed by greenish, pod-like seed capsules (to 7” long) which mature in late summer and persist into fall.

Its bark is gray-brown and finely scaled with longitudinal splits.

A cross section of stem reveals a marking resembling the Greek cross, hence the common name.

Regions:  Piedmont, Coastal Plains

Seasons of Interest: 

  Leaf:  Winter                   Blooms:    Spring          Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Late summer

Wildlife Value:  This plant is moderately resistant to damage from deer.  Its flowers are attractive to hummingbirds.  White tailed deer and beavers eat the foilage.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  There are no major pests of Cross vine.  However, the vine itself may become a problem.  It spreads both by seeds as well as by root suckers.  To prevent the vine from spreading to areas where it isn’t wanted, pull up the root suckers as they are spotted.

Rapid grower; climbs by twining tendrils with adhesive disks at the tip; leaves take on a purplish color in winter; name comes from the cross pattern in the stem's pith; tolerates coastal conditions

Synonym(s): Anisostichus capreolataAnisostichus crucigera

30-50 ft.
The Cross vine has orange-red, 2-in., trumpet-shaped flowers in mid-spring. The blooms are fragrant. Although this plant will grow in both sun and partial shade, it flowers best if grown in full sun.
Evergreen to semi-evergreen
Sun to light shade
4-7" capsule
Growth Rate:
Climbing Method:
Twining tendrils with adhesive disks at the tip
play, cpp, apvg, ncemgva2018, showy flowers, coastal, playground, fragrant, full sun, deer resistant, hummingbirds, rapid growth, children’s garden, evergreen

NCCES plant id: 2253

Bignonia capreolata flowers
rachelgreenbelt, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Bignonia capreolata habit
Susan E Adams, CC-BY-SA-2.0
Bignonia capreolata Bignonia capreolata
Eleanor, CC BY - 2.0
Bignonia capreolata Bignonia capreolata
CameliaTWU, CC BY-NC-ND - 4.0