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Plantidote of the Day 2011-11-17

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Dalechampia dioscoreifolia

Purple wings, Costa Rican butterfly vine

"All the color of bougainvillea without the mess" ... that's how one garden site described this vine. Like bougainvillea or poinsettia, what looks like a flower (in this case, the purple part) is actually a bract. The real flower is that tiny thing in the center of the "wings" (click on the image to enlarge it).

The bracts can get as large as 5" across, and the vine easily grows to 20 feet or more in height. Zones 9 to 11 are best for this plant, a native of South America. According to several sites, it has been known to survive temperatures in the 20s, but no guarantees. Other than a warm climate, butterfly vine likes sun or partial shade and regular watering. It can bloom all year, but late summer is when it's most spectacular.

Readers, please send twig ( images and stories for the ongoing Plantidote of the Day series. In exchange, you'll win undying fame in the form of a hat tip! Plants growing in your garden, your house, or neighbor's yard, plants from the forest or farmers' market, plants you preserved, plants you prepared (wine; cider; tea; dried beans), plants you harvested (grains; chanterelles), plants you picked (flowers), plants you dried (herbs), plants you covet or hope to grow someday. Herbal remedies, propagation tips, new varieties, etc.. And if you can, include some solid detail about the plant, too -- a story, the genus and species, or where you got the seeds, or the recipe, or your grandmother gave it to you. Or challenge us with a "Name That Plant" mystery entry ... And please feel free to add corrections and additional information in the comments.

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