Monday, April 5, 2010
Adlumia fungosa, if pronounced ad-LOO’mee-uh” fun”-GOE’suh, may sound like an incantation from the Harry Potter series. Instead, it is fast growing biennial vine native to the Northeastern United States. It is also known by many common names, such as Climbing Fumitory, Allegheny Vine and Mountain Fringe Vine. The genus Adlumia is named for John Adlum a 19th century American Horticulturalist and fungosa means spongy in Latin, may refer to the consistency of the faded bloom which persists long after its peak.
The flowers form clusters of white to pale pink bells from June to September, similar to those of its cousin, bleeding heart (Dicentra). As the flowers age, they take on an antique sepia shade. The seed ripens throughout the season, with September being the best time to harvest the small, shiny black seeds. Jane Loudon recommended this plant for the English flower garden in her ‘Ladies Companion’ (1865). I was fortunate to get both some second year plants from the New England Wildflower Society this last year, as well as seed from Summer Hill Seeds. This should help me to develop a continuous supply of first and second year plants and I am looking forward their continuing presence in my garden.
The reported native habitats are moist coves, rocky woods, ledges, alluvial slopes, and thickets with a range from Virginia, north to Quebec and Manitoba. In Massachusetts it is listed as a threatened species where it is native to the western half of the state (west from Worcester County).
Recently, fellow plant blogger Alice Joyce wrote a article featuring this vine in the March/April 2010 edition of American Gardener (link-on-line access for AHS members only). Also, more information and some fine photos can be found in a post from Kathy Purdy in Cold Climate Gardening (August 2009).