Plant collector – Tecoma stans (with an aside on a hot week)

Tecoma stans

How pretty is the yellow tecoma? It must be having a particularly good flowering season because I have never taken much notice of it before though Mark tells me it has bloomed previously. Maybe it is that it is visible from the swimming pool and I have spent a bit of time floating around on the water on my air mattress in this week’s heat.

As an aside, I can not complain to our children about the heat. We have had temperatures in the late twenties (Celsius) all week and NZ has been ‘in the grip of a heatwave’ with temperatures in the early 30s. Our children are currently living in Australia in a heatwave that has seen temperatures well into mid 40s. Sydney daughter has previously commented that the heat only really becomes a big issue when the air temperature is higher than body temperature – above 37 degrees. So, there is the voice of experience. Canberra daughter declared yesterday that our grandson would not be going swimming that day because it was a *cool* day of *only* 26 degrees. We start wilting much above 26 degrees, but let it be known that we have high humidity and particularly bright sunlight which makes moderate temperatures seem much hotter. At least that is our story and we are sticking to it. I have been swimming (or floating in a leisurely fashion) at least three times a day.

Back to the tecoma. It is a plant from south and central America in tropical to sub-tropical areas. We are more warm-temperate than sub-tropical – maybe sub-sub-tropical – but sufficiently frost-free and well drained for it to grow and bloom here. It forms a large shrub to about two metres, somewhat rangy in appearance but I am sure it could be pruned to keep it tidier. Apparently it can be grown as a hedge so it must respond to pruning. The flowers are the giveaway that it is a member of the bignoniacae family – trumpet flowers. It attracts bees and butterflies, as I have observed, but has so far failed to attract any hummingbirds on account of the absence of such feathered delights in this country. It is scented, though not powerfully so.

We only grow it for the flowers and I will start to take note of how long it blooms because it can flower all year round in warm climates. Mind you, it is also becoming a pest weed in parts of Australia and Kenya, I read.

Should Armageddon come, Tecoma stans has some useful properties. Not only is the wood good (though you would need many more plants than our one to start harvesting wood), it has many medicinal properties capable, it is said, of treating diabetes, stomach pains, water retention, syphilis and intestinal worms! I just hope that, in the event of Armageddon, we get to keep the internet. It is rather too easy to get traditional remedies wrong in inexperienced hands. 

2 thoughts on “Plant collector – Tecoma stans (with an aside on a hot week)

  1. tonytomeo

    Tecoma stans is SO rad! However, it is rare here. All of the last few that I can remember were on old homes that were in the process of being restored (by the same client). The gardens had been abandoned for a while, so landscapers were trying to determine what plants were worth salvaging. Sadly, Tecoma stans can get quite sloppy if not pruned either up or down for confinement. However, for those who do not mind getting aggressive with it, renovation is possible. Fortunately, those who are interested in restoring old houses have the patience for restoring old plants, and then maintaining them. Only in the past few years, Tecoma stans has become available in nurseries; but it is a compact cultivar. I suppose compact would be better and easier to work with. The big sloppy ones are just to rad though.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I may try pruning ours this year because it is indeed ‘big and sloppy’ – or rangy as I call it. One of our horrors is the dwarfing down of so many plants so they are compact little mounds – from alstomerias to agapanthus to tecomas and a whole lot more in-between. In a bigger garden they just look squitty and insignificant; in a little garden they just look suburban.

Comments are closed.