Another thank you directed toward retired UBC Botanical Garden staff member David Tarrant for sharing some of his photographs from Mexico. Today, the species is Petrea volubilis. David writes: “Petrea volubilis is a woody vine species native to Mexico and Central America. Its tough ovate leaves feel like sandpaper, hence one of its common names: sandpaper vine! The flowers are exquisite, borne on arching pendant racemes with equally showy bracts. The bracts last a little longer than the actual flowers, making for a showy garden plant”.
Petrea volubilis is also know by other common names including queen’s wreath and purple wreath. David noted its native range, but it is widely cultivated in tropical regions for outdoor ornamental use or temperate regions with overwintering indoors.
The genus is named in honour of Robert Petre, 8th Baron Petre, a noted horticulturist and botanist. Surprisingly, the name Petrea was suggested in 1732 or 1733, when Petre was only twenty years old (a specimen was first collected for Western science in 1732 by William Houston, who suggested the name). Linnaeus continued to use the name and formally applied it in his 1753 Species Plantarum, designating Petrea volubilis as the type specimen. Linnaeus also notes of Petrea volubilis: “…variolis correptus, longiori vita dignissimus, utpote qui Florae indicae domicilia exstruxit in Europa omnium splendissima. Perhaps someone with better Latin comprehension can interpret, but I muddle through this as “crooked vine, worthy of more cultivation, since it is always splendid when flowering in European greenhouses”. I’d very much welcome correction, but don’t bother using Google Translate, which isn’t quite there yet with its Latin (“smallpox corrected a life worthy of the homes built in Europe, the splendid as that of Flora of India”).