General: Bignonia Family (Bignoniaceae). Trumpet creeper is a deciduous or partly evergreen vine that climbs by aerial rootlets and twining stems. This is a U.S. native. Stems can grow up to 12 m long and have numerous aerial rootlets. Leaves are opposite, pinnately compound and coarsely toothed, composed of 7, 9, or 11 leaflets. Leaflets are somewhat shiny and dark green. Flowers are yellow-orange to red, tubular, and up to 8 cm long and 4 cm wide at the mouth. Flowers are born in clusters of four to a dozen and bloom from July through August. The fruit is a flat, tapered capsule, 8-13 cm long with seeds that are flat and winged.
Distinguishing characters of trumpet creeper include its U-shaped bundle scars on the stem, abundant root-like aerial stems, opposite compound leaves that are coarsely toothed, large trumpet-shaped flowers, and its light tan bark that appears flaky on mature stems.
Distribution: Trumpet creeper is native to eastern, north-central, and south-central portions of the United States and has become naturalized in New England. Its natural range occurs from New Jersey to Ontario and Iowa, and south to Florida and Texas. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
Habitat: Trumpet creeper is found in thickets, dry woods, waste grounds, railroads, disturbed sites, clearings, and along roadsides and fencerows.
Bignonia radicans, cow-itch, Gelseminum radicans, Tecoma radicans, Tecoma speciosa, trumpet flower, trumpet vine.
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
The USDA hardiness zones for trumpet creeper are 4-10. It grows in wet to dry soils and sand, loam, or clay soil types with a pH range of 3.7 to 6.8. Trumpet creeper prefers full sun for best flowering.
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Flower-Visiting Insects and Birds of Trumpet Creeper in Illinois
(Hummingbirds suck nectar from flowers, while orioles perforate [prf] the flowers near their corollas to steal nectar [sn@prf], and sometimes hummingbirds sucked nectar from these perforations as well; according to Robertson, bees collect pollen from flowers & are non-pollinating, however Bertin found that the honeybee and bumblebees sometimes sucked nectar within the flowers and successfully pollinated them; Halictid bees, ants, and flies suck nectar from extra-floral nectaries; observations are from Robertson and Bertin)
Trochilidae: Archilochus colubris sn fq sn@prf (Rb, Brt), Icterus galbula prf sn@prf np (Brt), Icterus spurius prf sn@prf np (Brt)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn cp (Brt); Apidae (Bombini): Bombus spp. sn cp (Brt), Bombus pensylvanica cp fq np (Rb)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Unidentified spp. cp np (Brt), Lasioglossum zephyrus cp np (Rb)
Sphingidae: Manduca sexta sn (Brt)
Extra-floral nectary visitors:
Halictidae (Halictinae): Lasioglossum imitatus sn fq (Rb), Lasioglossum versatus sn fq (Rb), Lasioglossum zephyrus sn fq (Rb)
Formicidae: Crematogaster lineolata sn fq (Rb), Formica fusca sn fq (Rb), Formica schaufussi sn (Rb), Tapinoma sessilis sn (Rb)
Syrphidae: Syritta pipiens sn (Rb); Sarcophagidae: Helicobia rapax sn (Rb), Ravinia anxia sn (Rb), Ravinia stimulans sn (Rb); Calliphoridae: Lucilia sericata sn (Rb); Muscidae: Musca domestica sn (Rb), Stomoxys calcitrans sn (Rb); Milichiidae: Milichiella lucidula sn fq (Rb); Otitidae: Delphinia picta sn fq (Rb)
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Campsis radicans
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Campsis radicans
Public Records: 6
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Trumpet creeper is an invasive weed. Please consult the PLANTS Web site (http://plants.usda.gov) and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).
Pests and potential problems
Planthoppers may occasionally feed on trumpet vine but generally do not cause serious damage. Leaf spots caused by various fungi may be seen but are not serious. Mildew causes a white powdery growth on the leaves.
Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely.
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
The NRCS Plant Materials Program has not released any cultivars of trumpet creeper for conservation use. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”
Ornamental cultivars of trumpet creeper include ‘Atropurpurea,’ ‘Crimson Trumpet,’ ‘Flamenco,’ ‘Flava,’ ‘Madame Galen,’ ‘Minor,’ ‘Praecox,’ ‘Speciosa,’ and ‘Variegata.’ These cultivars have been bred for flower and foliage color and for rapid growth.
Trumpet creeper is typically propagated by cuttings. It readily roots and develops new suckers that allow the species to grow rapidly.
Seeds are prepared for germination by stratifying them in moist sand for 60 days at 4oC and 30% relative humidity. Fungicide should be added to the sand to prevent mildew formation. For spring outplanting, seeds are sown in early fall. Sixty percent germination will occur within two weeks of removal from stratification conditions. There is no special treatment required for establishment other than monitoring for water needs.
During the active growth phase, plants will need to be cutback to encourage root growth and prevent the tangling of foliage. Seedlings will need to harden in winter-like temperatures before outplanting.
If not controlled, rampant growth will become a problem. Vines should be thinned throughout the growing season and cut back in winter to prevent aggressive spread.
This plant may become weedy or invasive in some regions or habitats and may displace desirable vegetation if not properly managed. Please consult with your local NRCS Field Office, Cooperative Extension Service office, or state natural resource or agriculture department regarding its status and use. Weed information is also available from the PLANTS Web site at plants.usda.gov.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Ornamental: The showy flowers of trumpet creeper make this plant appropriate for some gardening and landscaping needs. It is often used as a cover for fences, arbors, walls, pillars or large trellises and as a groundcover. The cigar-like fruit may be considered decorative during winter.
Wildlife: The tubular flowers and large quantities of nectar produced by trumpet creeper are attractants for
hummingbirds and butterflies. The vines also provide habitat to ants.
Campsis radicans (trumpet vine or trumpet creeper, also known in North America as cow itch vine or hummingbird vine), is a species of flowering plant of the family Bignoniaceae, native to the eastern United States and naturalized in parts of the western United States as well as in Ontario, parts of Europe, and scattered locations in Latin America. Growing to 10 m (33 ft), it is a vigorous, deciduous woody vine, notable for its showy trumpet-shaped flowers. It inhabits woodlands and riverbanks, and is also a popular garden subject.
The leaves are opposite, ovate, pinnate, 3–10 cm long, and emerald green when new, maturing into a dark green. The flowers come in terminal cymes of 4–12, orange to red in color with a yellowish throat, and generally appear after several months of warm weather.
The flowers are very attractive to hummingbirds, and many types of birds like to nest in the dense foliage. The flowers are followed by large seed pods. As these mature, they dry and split. Hundreds of thin, brown, paper-like seeds are released. These are easily grown when stratified.
The flamboyant flowering of Campsis radicans made it obvious to even the least botanically-minded of the first English colonists in Virginia. Consequently the plant quickly made its way to England early in the 17th century. Its botanical parentage, as a hardy member of a mostly subtropical group, made its naming problematic: according to John Parkinson, the Virginia settlers were at first calling it a jasmine or a honeysuckle, and then a bellflower; he classed it in the genus Apocynum (dogbane). Joseph Pitton de Tournefort erected a catch-all genus Bignonia in 1700, from which it has since been extricated.
The vigor of the trumpet vine should not be underestimated. In warm weather, it puts out huge numbers of tendrils that grab onto every available surface, and eventually expand into heavy woody stems several centimeters in diameter. It grows well on arbors, fences, telephone poles, and trees, although it may dismember them in the process. Ruthless pruning is recommended. Outside of its native range this species has the potential to be highly invasive, even as far north as New England. The trumpet vine thrives in many places in southern Canada as well.
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