Boussingaultia cordata Spreng.
Boussingaultia cordifolia Ten.
Boussingaultia gracilis Miers
Common Name: Madeira Vine
Madeira vine is a fast-growing, evergreen perennial climbing plant producing stems up to 9 metres long that support themselves by twining around the thin branches of other plants[
]. The stems are killed of in cold weather, but the plant can survive by means of its tuberous rootstocks and regrow when the weather is warmer.
Widely grown as an ornamental, the plant is also utilized for its edible roots and leaves and its medicinal properties.
The plant has escaped from cultivation and become naturalized in many areas of the tropics to warm temperate zones, where it can outcompete native vegetation. It smothers trees and other vegetation it grows on and can easily can break branches and bring down entire trees on its own[
]. The plant is notoriously difficult to control[
S. America - Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela.
Naturalized in Texas, California and Florida in southern N. America where it grows in disturbed areas, fencerows and roadsides from sea level to 500 metres[
|Habit||Evergreen Perennial Climber
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
A plant of subtropical to tropical areas. It is sometimes cultivated in temperate areas, the plant dying down in cold weather but the roots surviving underground and regrowing in the spring. It grows wild in areas where mean temperatures range from 20 - 30°c in the hot season and from 10 - 30°c in the cool season. Average annual rainfall varies from 500 - 2,000mm. The tubers have survived outdoors in a sunny sheltered position for three winters outdoors (as of May 2004) in our gardens in southwest England (hardyness zone 8), the plant coming back into growth in late spring[
Requires a well-drained humus-rich soil and a position in full sun or good indirect light[
]. Established plants are drought tolerant[
In cold areas it should be possible to grow the plants on an annual basis. Harvest the roots in the autumn after the top growth has been killed by frost and then store them in a cool but frost-free place for the winter, planting then out in late spring (perhaps starting them off in a greenhouse beforehand)[
This plant seldom, if ever, produces seeds[
Root - raw or cooked[
]. Boiled and eaten like potatoes[
]. The raw root is crisp and pleasant when first put in the mouth, but soon degenerates into a mucilaginous mass described by some people as 'like eating catarrh' and in rather less flattering terms by others![
]. When well baked, the root loses this quality and is quite pleasant to eat[
Leaves - raw or cooked[
]. Succulent and slightly mucilaginous[
]. Eaten in salads or cooked as a potherb[
]. Used as a spinach[
The plant has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, and liver-protective effects[
Seed - we have no information on this plant, but, if seed can be obtained, suggest sowing it in a greenhouse in the spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in spring after the last expected frosts.
Division. Dig up the tubers at any time from late autumn to early spring. Store them in a cool but frost-free place and either pot them up in the greenhouse in early spring or plant them directly outside in late spring.