Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The trumpet vine

I came across the trumpet vine in the 1960s at the famed Termal Otel (Thermal Hotel) in Yalova, Turkey.


The hotel’s restaurant had trellises on the wall that opened out to the lovely gardens. Perhaps there was a pergola that the vine climbed. The trumpet vine or Campsis radicans is a species of flowering plant of the family Bignoniaceae native to the southeastern United States. This deciduous woody vine has clusters of trumpet-shaped orange flowers with yellowish bases. I learn that the clusters called cymes have 4–12 flowers which appear after several months of warm weather and last throughout the summer.

The vine was introduced to England in the 17th century. The Latinized genus name campsis is from Greek kampsis-‘bending’ for its curved stamens and it is akin to Greek kampē-‘bend’ or ‘turn’. The Latin radicans means ‘with stems that take root’. C. radicans climbs by clinging to surfaces with aerial roots.

The leaves are pinnate and 3-10 cm long. They are emerald green when new and later become dark green. The flowers are followed by large, almost 15 cm seed pods. As these mature, they dry and split. Thin, brown, paper-like seeds are released. C. radicans vines can climb trees and with support they can reach up to 10-12 meters.

One gardener mentions that the term ‘invasive’ often used to describe the trumpet vine is not fair, for the plant does not escape cultivation, it does not invade natural areas and it does not pose an ecological threat. However, if you have a vine in your garden it can sprout countless shoots from a very wide spreading root system which can be very hard to remove completely.

The ‘60s were still the ‘white years’ with white towels, white bed linen and white table cloths being the norm. I remember an elegant restaurant with perhaps soft music playing in the background. Actually, those were the years before any renovations must have taken place at the hotel after a long stretch of use, and yet the unrushed formal dining rituals of the times, executed with flare stayed with me. The grounds of the hotel were like a botanical garden interspersed with pavilions in the shades of tall trees. There was an old cinema which still stands. I remember being impressed with the painters that I came across on the grounds of the hotel, working in tranquility on a canvas propped on their easels.

Every now and then my dad took respite from his aches and pains at Termal Hotel with wonderful thermal baths. Bursa and Yalova region is bestowed with hot springs. There are baths built by Byzantium emperors and Turkish Sultans that go back thousands of years. Yalova thermal waters contain a mix of calcium, sulfate and fluoride which makes them very therapeutic. Drinking these waters or bathing in them provides remedy for a number of ailments.

                                                   February 1977, my parents Baha and Gülten Örstan on the grounds of the hotel


  1. Hi Beste - the trumpet vine is a magnificent plant - beautiful colouring .. it's very rife in southern Africa ... and interesting to note it's not invasive. Lovely photo of your parents - those 'old hotels' were glorious. The Spa waters and their therapeutic help is always needed .. cheers Hilary

  2. So lovely. I remember finding out the name of this plant because I really wanted to use it in a story.