Lotus Vine

Lotus berthelotii 'Red Flash' aka:
'Red Flash' Parrot's Beak, or
Pelican's Beak, or
Winged Pea, or
Coral Gem, or
Hornklee, or
Lotus Vine

and

Lotus maculata 'Gold Flash' aka:
'Gold Flash' Fire Vine, or
Golden Lotus Vine

   

In zones 10 & 11 Lotus Vines are perennial vine that die down in winter & return every spring. But here in Zone 8 they are semi-hardy at best & are grown as annuals, as it dies to the ground at first frost.

We planted this native of the Canary Islands in a newish sun garden that was not yet well planted, because Lotus Vines are a good quick filler that can help keep weeds down. The expectation was that it would die by or before winter, & we could later put better-lasting perennials in the area the Lotus Vines temporarily covered. The following year, though, one of the four clumps had survived the winter & returned in full form. The June blossom photo is from a second year vine of the cultivar 'Red Flash.'

We had planted two each of two tiny starts of Lotus berthelotii 'Red Flash' & L. maculata 'Gold Flash' which look & behave very similarly, save that 'Red Flash' shown here has crimson parrot-beak flowers, & the 'Gold Flash' has orange.

Totally unrelated to water lotus, Lotus Vines are of the legume family with sweet-pea type blooms.L. berthelotii & L. maculata are nearly identical, except that L. berthelotii lacks L. maculata's maroon-red twigs. Twigs on 'Red Flash' are yellow-green, unlike 'Gold Flash' which has reddish twigs. So they were easy to distinguish even when not in bloom.

The twigs are covered with silvery-grey needle-like leaves. If not pinched back for more compact growth, the vines will creep away from the center for three feet or further. They make excellent groundcover vines, & they do excellently in containers hanging down the edges of pots, but they're not good climbers for trellising.

Even though one out of the four Lotus Vines made it through an unusually mild winter, there is no reason to believe that that one vine will make it to a third year. Because we no longer need any such temporary filler in that sun-garden, we'll not likely plant it again.

   



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