Abutilon megapotamicum/vexillarium (Flowering Maple, Chinese Lantern)
- Botanical Name: Abutilon megapotamicum; Abutilon vexillarium
- Common Name: Flowering Maple, Trailing Abutilon, Brazillian Bell-flower, Chinese Lantern
- Family name: Malvaceae
- Plant type: An ornamental perennial viny shrub originating from Brazil and Tropical America.
- Light: Full sun to light shade. Preferably morning sun and sheltered from the strong afternoon sun.
- Moisture: Regular water, though can be quite drought tolerant once well established. However, not too dry as it can cause leaves to dry and wilt.
- Soil: Well drained, light (mix of sand and loam) and fairly fertile.
- Propagation: From semi-hardwood cuttings. Can also be grown from seeds.
- Features: Abutilon megapotamicum is an evergreen or semi-evergreen shrub growing between 4-8 feet tall and as wide. It’s also known as Trailing Abutilon with its narrow and arching stems that are both delicate and graceful and covered with bright green foliage. Leaves are about 2-3.5 ins. long, ovate and tapering, plus mildly 3-lobed resembling maple leaves, hence commonly called Flowering Maple. This vine has buttery-yellow 5-petalled flowers that emerge and droop from the distended brilliant-red calyces. The petals will age to a lovely apricot before falling. It has a dark red central column with numerous yellow stamens that mature to dark brown, protruding about 0.5 inch from the yellow petals. These pendulous and lantern-shaped red-yellow flowers about 1.5-2 ins. in overall length are really eye-catching!
- Care: Prune to remove unwanted growth, keeping it compact or to promote bushiness. Once a month fertilizing is sufficient, otherwise heavy feeding will induce more foliage at the expense of flowers! Watch out for white flies and mealy bugs as Abutilons are susceptible to them and give them a preventive spray of pesticide occasionally.
- Usage: Chinese Lantern or Abutilon megapotamicum will be excellent in any perennial border, or on trellises in any garden, patio or conservatory. As a fast growing vine, it’ll add color to your fence or screen or even as an espalier to decorate and brighten a barren wall. For container gardening, it’ll look great in a hanging basket.
- For sub-tropical & temperate regions: Check here!
This Trailing Abutilon or Brazalian Bellflower with its spectacular lantern-shaped vivid red and yellow flowers presents an interesting sight, especially when the plant is bursting with blooms! Each lax and arching stem, filled with bright green foliage can hold many gorgeous pendant flowers in different forms, shapes and colors depending on their blooming stage as displayed in the picture on the right! A fabulous sight indeed!
One setback is that this Abutilon megapotamicum though considered the showiest among the abutilon genus with its exotic flowers is such a magnet for mealy bugs and white flies! And we’re often tempted to ponder whether it’s worth all the effort to maintain it with regular spraying of pesticide, which may be detrimental to other beneficial bugs that reside in our garden too! Hmmm?? Meanwhile, this lovely upright and spreading climber stays on with regular pruning and often times hard pruning when the mealy bugs infestation gets too large for treatment!
Last edited: 2008-06-21