Monday, April 5, 2010

Adlumia fungosa!!!


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.


Its fern-like gray-green foliage is typical of other members of the Fumariaceae, like the Dicentra and Corydalis.  In early spring it is difficult to distinguish this vine from Wild Bleeding Heart and Squirrel Corn (D. eximia and D. canadensis).  The vine forms a rosette, growing to about 8” the first year and in the second year takes off to form an 8-10’ clamoring vine.  Its structure is rather delicate and it requires the support of strings or a trellis, on which the thin leaf stems intertwine, to grow vertically. The plants prefer partial shade in average, well drained soil. Too much sun will damage this vine. The first time I tried this plant in my garden, one poorly supported plant was irreparably twisted and killed by a strong wind.
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).

9 comments:

Laurrie said...

What a great plant... I'd never heard of it, and you're right the name sounds Harry Potterish. Even the common name, fumitory, is weird! This looks like a nice well behaved vine that doesn't shout the way a blooming clematis does.

Curtis said...

At first I thought this would be a perfect substitute for autumn clematis. But it is both visually and physically more delicate.

One advantage of its growth habit is that it is easy to clean up at the end of the season, rather than having that perennial tangle of vines that you get with clematis.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

A lovely delicate plant!

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

What an interesting plant. My first thought when seeing the first photo was it looked like a bleeding heart, so I wasn't surprised to see it's actually related!

joene said...

Curtis, I always learn something when reading your blog. In fact I like it so much that I added it to my Blogs for Gardeners list. Now I just need to figure out where to use Adlumia fungosa.

Ellen Sousa said...

Ooh, this vine is new to me, and it really does look like bleeding heart! I will have to look for this one at NEWFS' nursery. I'm always looking for vines that behave nicely, unlike most of them :-)

Dr. Martial said...

EAGERLY LOOKING FOR SOME MEDICINAL USE FROM THE PAST DR.MARTIAL-

Curtis said...

I don't know of any medical application for the genus Adlumia; however there are several uses for the closely related Corydalis genus.

Anonymous said...

this plant in endangered, if you find one care for it, we need to encourage native plants to grow to allow our pollinators to flourish