One of the most remarkable tropical plants in cultivation, the jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys) is certainly one of the more challenging plants to grow in Singapore. The struggle doesn’t lie in its general growth requirements but rather in triggering the production of its flowers in our hot, tropical climate.
One possible reason why this leguminous liana may have difficulty flowering here is the lack of sizable temperature fluctuations or differences in day and night temperatures. However, this factor might have been achieved recently with the cooler, rainy days in December against our usual warm climate. These conditions may more closely mimic those in the plant’s native habitat: the tropical rainforests of Luzon in the Philippines. Unfortunately, the species is considered vulnerable in the wild due to deforestation.
As its common name suggests, the jade vine is known for its long, pendulous clusters of greenish-blue flowers - a colour rarely seen in the botanical world. This remarkable floral colour is due to the co-occurrence of two different pigments in the petal epidermal cells: an anthocyanin (malvin) and a flavone (saponarin) in a very specific 1:9 molar ratio. The slightly alkaline cellular environment turns malvin blue and saponarin yellow, resulting in a unique aquamarine colour.
The ethereal blossoms of the jade vine are short-lived with individual flowers only lasting a couple of days. Head down to the Gardens today and witness their fleeting beauty at Fruits and Flowers in World of Plants!
Written by: Hazri Boey, Senior Horticulturist (Gardens Operations)
Hazri not only surrounds himself with plants at work; he has an abundant collection at home too! Having nurtured a keen interest in nature since young, he might have gone on to become a zookeeper caring for owls or sloths had it not been for his plant identification talent!