Ceropegia elegans   (Wall.)


 
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syn. Ceropegia myosorensis (Wight), Ceropegia walkeriae (Wight)

 
distribution:

Burma (?)
India: Coimbatore District, Dindigul District, Nilgiri District, Theni District, Tirunelveli District, Tiruvannamalai District / Tamil Nadu
Sri Lanka

 
Ceropegia elegans belongs to the species with an normal rootstock, which is neither thickened nor tuberous.

The leaves are non succulent but somewhat fleshy. They are about 7,5 to 9 cm long, broadened lancet-shaped, glossy green in colour and have an elongated tip.

The flowers appear in few-flowered cymes, are up to 4 cm long, purplish with green spots or whitish with purple spots. They are described as odourless.

The species is extremly rare and may be already extinct in the wild.

It is an interesting fact, that in the 19-th century in many parts of Europe this species seem to have been very popular and common with gardeners.

So it can be read in an issue of the 'Allgemeine Gartenzeitung' from the year 1834:

Native on the indian mountains Nilgherri and introduced to England by Dr. Wallich in the year 1826.
It is a small twining plant with dark purple-brown stems and leaves, and with blue-brown flowers, wich are speckled with purple. They are only beautiful, when they are opened; than their mouth is closed by a number of purple coloured laces, which converge above the centre and look like so called chevaux de frise, whereby the entrance is barricaded against insects.
As it is an east indian plant, so it will be generally kept in the greenhouse, where it blooms quite good from May to October and can easyly be propagated by layers. It is however evergreen and grows better in the free flowerbed raised on a stick, as on a sheltered place and requires in the winter not much more than a common glasshouse.


(source: Allgemeine Gartenzeitung published by Friedrich Otto, Albert Dietrich; Verlag der Nauckschen Buchhandlung; Vol. 2: 399 (1834))

The Botanical Garden of Kolkata (form. Calcutta) obtained this species in the year 1824 from Dr. Hawtayne, at that time Archdeacon of Mumbai (form. Bombay). In the year 1828 a living specimen of this species was brought to London by Dr. Nathaniel Wallich and was presented by the Directors of the East India Company to the Royal Botanical Garden at Kew.

If this species is still kept there, I cannot say.

 
left:

Ceropegia elegans


depiction from: Spicilegium Neilgherrense; or a selection of Neilgherry plants, drawn and coloured from nature, with brief descriptions of each; some general remarks on the geography and affinities of natural families of plants, and occasional notices of their economical properties and uses. by Robert Wight; Vol. 2, 45-48 (1851)

http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
 
left:

Ceropegia elegans, detail


depiction from: Spicilegium Neilgherrense; or a selection of Neilgherry plants, drawn and coloured from nature, with brief descriptions of each; some general remarks on the geography and affinities of natural families of plants, and occasional notices of their economical properties and uses. by Robert Wight; Vol. 2, 45-48 (1851)

http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org

 
var. gardneri   (H. Huber)

 
syn. Ceropegia gardneri (Hook.)

 
distribution:

Sri Lanka

 
The flowers of this variety are white and show purplish brown spots.

 
left:

Ceropegia elegans var. gardneri (syn. Ceropegia gardneri)


depiction from 'Curtis's Botanical Magazine'

Photo: image by courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden

http://www.botanicus.org

 
References:

- W. John Kress; Robert A DeFilipps; Ellen Farr; Daw Yin Yin Kyi: A Checklist of the Trees, Shrubs, Herbs, and Climbers of Myanmar. Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. 45: 1-590. 2003