Stephanotis Plant Description

Overview

Floradora, Madagascar jasmine, bridal wreath, chaplet-flower, Hawaiian wedding flower (pua male) or stephanotis--take your pick as to the lovely name to assign the tropical vine known botanically as Stephanotis floribunda. Growing up into trunks or clasping to palm trunks, stephanotis grows outdoors where winter frosts never threaten it, in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 11 and warmer. It does make a pretty houseplant in a sunny, warm window, too.

Growth Habit

The stephanotis vine becomes a sparsely branched, twining climber. Its stems are firm but semi-woody and smooth, flopping around to catch support. Old specimens have stems 10 to 20 feet long, occasionally longer.

Foliage Characteristics

The evergreen leaves are leathery or rubbery and a dull, dark to medium green. They look like long ovals or ellipses that measure a slightly longer than 4 inches. On the stems, the leaves grow opposite each other. Break a leaf open or from its stem and white latex oozes out.

Flowering

Intermittently across the warm months of the year, clusters of flowers develop on short stems from the leaf bases on sunny sections of the vine. Flowering is heaviest in the hot, humid summer and autumn months. The waxy white blossoms are salverform: a floral tube with five spreading lobes that look like the serving dish called a salver. The tubes range from 2 to 3 inches in length and occur in clusters of four to eight blooms. The flowers release a deliciously sweet perfume.

Fruit Development

In nature, moths pollinate the white blossoms and result in formation of fleshy green fruits that look like smooth cucumbers. The elongated oval fruits eventually ripen and shrivel to split open.

Seed Dispersal

Stephanotis seeds stack neatly atop each other in the fruit and are first light green but ripen to coffee brown. Each seed has a silky tuft of many white filaments that catch the wind, lifting the seed far from the mother plant once the fruit splits open. When airborne, the seeds resemble large-scale dandelion, milkweed or cottonwood tree seeds.

Keywords: Stephanotis floribunda, tropical flowering vines, Madagascar jasmine, fragrant flowers, cut flowers, white bouquet flowers

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," nonprofit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He's gardened and worked professionally at public and private gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He has written articles for eHow and GardenGuides.