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Tecoma capensis

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Bignonia capensis
  • Gelseminum capense
  • Tecomaria capensis
Phonetic Spelling
tek-koh-MAH kah-PEN-sis
Description

The Cape Honeysuckle is an evergreen shrub or vine that has clusters of brilliant orange and deep red trumpet-shaped flowers. They typically bloom from fall to spring. In warmer climates, they may bloom all year round. The shrub is 7-10 feet tall and wide. As a vine, it may grow up to 25-30 feet long and may bramble up to 50-100 feet. The plant requires frequent pruning to contain its size. It is a member of the Bignoniaceae or Trumpet Creeper Family which are mostly tropical. The Cape Honeysuckle has several cultivars with flower colors ranging from yellow, apricot, orange, and red.

The plant is native to Southern Africa. It has been cultivated in Europe, India, Singapore, Australia, and the islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Unfortunately, the shrub has become invasive in Australia. It is winter hardy in USDA zones 9-11. The leaves and branches will die back at temperatures of 25 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. In Africa, the bark of the shrub is used to make medicines for the treatment of bronchitis or gastroenteritis.

The origin of the genus name, Tecoma, is a contraction of the Mexican name for one of the species, "tecomaxochitl." The species name, capensis, means "of or from the cape."

The Cape Honeysuckle blooms in full sun to partial shade. It will tolerate sand and some clay. The soil should be moist and well-drained. The shrub or vine may become invasive in warm, rainy climates or if water excessively in dry climates. It is suggested that the shrub should be watered once a week in full sun and only once or twice a month in partial shade. Periodic pruning is necessary to improve stem/leaf density and to maintain size. Pruning is also necessary to remove any winter damage. The shrub may be propagated by rootball division, stem cuttings, or layering.

The leaves are odd-pinnately compound with 5 to 9 leaflets. The leaflets are ovate with dentate margins. The flowers are brightly colored, trumpet-shaped, and measure 2 inches long. The flowers are arranged in clusters or racemes. The fruits are thin, long capsules that contain many seeds that are easily dispersed by the wind.

The nectar of the flowers attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and honey bees. 

In the landscape, Cape Honeysuckle may be used as a grand scale groundcover, espalier, or large formal hedge. It may be best grown in a container if maintaining its size is a concern. If the shrub or vine becomes invasive, it is easily killed by the application of glyphosate during the summer.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Odd-pinnately compound leaves with 5 to 9 leaflets
  • Leaflets are green to dark green, ovate, and with dentate margins
  • Showy yellow, orange, or red trumpet-shaped flowers blooming fall to spring
  • Thin, elongated fruit capsules

Insects, Diseases, and Other Problems:

Cape Honeysuckle has no serious disease or insect problems. Spider mites or whiteflies may occur if the plant is maintained indoors.

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Apricot'
    Apricot flowers and more compact
  • 'Aurea'
    Yellow flowers and more heat tolerant
  • 'Coccinea'
    Bright red or scarlet flowers
  • 'Salmonea'
    Orange or pink flowers
'Apricot', 'Aurea', 'Coccinea', 'Salmonea'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#showy flowers#deciduous#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#shrub#red flowers#weedy#honey bees#nectar plant#orange flowers#fast growing#wind tolerant#aggressive#pollinator plant#vine#butterfly friendly#coastal plant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Apricot'
    Apricot flowers and more compact
  • 'Aurea'
    Yellow flowers and more heat tolerant
  • 'Coccinea'
    Bright red or scarlet flowers
  • 'Salmonea'
    Orange or pink flowers
'Apricot', 'Aurea', 'Coccinea', 'Salmonea'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#showy flowers#deciduous#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#shrub#red flowers#weedy#honey bees#nectar plant#orange flowers#fast growing#wind tolerant#aggressive#pollinator plant#vine#butterfly friendly#coastal plant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Tecoma
    Species:
    capensis
    Family:
    Bignoniaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    In southern Africa, the bark of the Cape Honeysuckle is used as medicine to relieve pain and to treat sleeplessness, bronchitis, fevers, and dysentery. They treat bleeding gums by rubbing dried powdered bark on their teeth. The leaves are used to treat diarrhea and gastroenteritis.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Layering
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southern Africa
    Distribution:
    Africa: Eastern Cape Coasts, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mozambique, Mpumalanga, South Africa, and Swaziland; Australia; USA: AZ, CA, FL, and HI; The Cape Honeysuckle has been cultivated in many countries around the world. It has been cultivated as an ornamental in Europe, India, Singapore, Australia, and islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It was naturalized in Australia and is now considered invasive.
    Wildlife Value:
    The nectar of the flowers attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and honeybees.
    Climbing Method:
    Twining
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 7 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Vine
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Climbing
    Irregular
    Multi-stemmed
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    After flowering, the fruits appear as three to a seven-inch-long narrow capsule that contains many winged seeds. The small seeds have two membraneous wings, which make them easily dispersed by the wind.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Winter
    Flower Shape:
    Trumpet
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are 2 inches long, five-lobed, trumpet-shaped, and appear in clusters. The colors range from red, deep orange, yellow, and salmon. The flowers tend to be red in cooler climates, and they are orange in warmer climates. Flowering may be somewhat erratic, with possible flowering all year round in some climates.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are odd-pinnately compound, opposite, green, glabrous, and glossy. The margins are dentate. There are 5 to 9 leaflets, and each leaflet is ovate in shape. It is evergreen in most regions, but it will lose its leaves in colder climates.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The stems are gray and flexible when young. They have no thorns nor tendrils.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Container
    Vertical Spaces
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Heat
    Salt
    Wind
    Problems:
    Weedy