This week for Flora and Fauna Friday we have spring’s climbing coral choir: Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata).

Crossvine is a high climbing native vine that can snake its way to the tops of even the tallest canopies. It adheres to the trunks of trees with tendrils that wriggle and wedge their way into the crevices of bark or wrap around any tiny projection. Crossvine has a remarkably thin stem for the length it grows. When cut, this stem reveals the cross of its namesake, four pithy rays extending into the wood of the stem in a cross-pattern. Crossvine has large evergreen leaves. Each leaf is split into two separate leaflets and paired oppositely with another leaf, giving the plant the appearance of four pendulous leaves per node.

Crossvine’s best known character is its flowers. Blossoms of coral pink with orange accents, a deep bugle shape, and wide mouth rimmed with five petals. Crossvine blooms in early April right as Ruby-throated Hummingbirds begin to arrive in droves. Crossvine is a species of plant specially adapted for pollination by Hummingbirds. Its deep, wide flowers are the perfect shape to fit a Hummingbird head, dusting it with pollen. This pollination route is a common one for high-climbing vines like both Crossvine and Trumpet Vine. Hummingbirds have a much easier time finding and accessing these high-flying flowers than bees and butterflies. That skyward bloom is advantageous because Crossvine has wind dispersed seeds. The higher it can bear flowers, and subsequently fruit, the farther it can expect its seeds to scatter on the wind.

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