Thunbergia erecta (King's Mantle)

  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0154
  • Botanical Name: Thunbergia erecta
  • Common Name: King's Mantle, Bush Clock Vine, Bush Thunbergia
  • Cultivar: N/A
  • Family: Acanthaceae 
Thunbergia erecta 
Photo by Matthew Gaston
  • Native To: Tropical, Western Africa

Landscaping Information

    • Plant Type: Shrub
    • Texture: Fine, Dense
    • Form: Spreading to Round-Headed
    • Height (on average, in landscape use): 4'
    • Height to Spread Ratio: 1:1
    • Growth Rate: Fast
    • Landscape Values: Border, Edging, Foundation, Framing, Hedge, Screen, Space Division, Windbreak, Erosion Control
    • Outstanding Quality: Flower Color
    Thunbergia erecta used as a hedge around moped parking at UH Manoa
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Botanical Descriptions

    • Flowers: 1.5"-2.5" long, 5 pale to deep violet petals with a white to yellow throat. Lightly fragrant. 'Alba' cultivar features white flowers. 
    Thunbergia erecta flower
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    • Fruits: Beak shaped capsule with 4 seeds. Not observed in Hawaii
    • Foliage Color: Young/immature: Yellow Green. Mature: Medium Green
    • Foliage Tip: Acuminate
    • Foliage Base: Rounded to Acuminate
    • Petiole: 0.25"
    • Stipules: Present
    • Margins: Smooth
    • Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
    • Leaf Shape: Elliptic  
    • Leaf Type:  Simple
    • Leaf Texture: Glabrous, prominent venation
    • Leaf Special Notes: Smallish leaves give this plant a fine texture. 
    Thunbergia erecta adaxial leaf surface
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Thunbergia erecta abaxial leaf surface
    Photo by Matthew Gaston
    Thunbergia erecta leaves
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    • Bark and Trunk: Young shoots are red to maroon, usually on the upward, sun-facing surface. Shoots mature and lose the reddish hues. No main stem- comprised primarily of thinner twiggy stems. 
    Thunbergia erecta leaf arrangement and shoot color
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Horticultural Information

      • Light Preference: Semi-Sun to Full Sun
      • Light Tolerances: Semi-Shade
      • Soil Preferences: Well-Drained, somewhat adaptable to most soil types. 
      • Tolerances: Not Particular
      • Water Requirements: Moderate
      • Notes on Maintenance: No notable pests. Flowers throughout the year, with heaviest blooming in summer. Regular trimming will keep this plant shapely as a hedge and promote new shoots (with reddish stems) and flowers. Seems to do well as a potted plant as well. Thunbergia erecta (King's Mantle) shares similar features in regard to landscape uses and growth patterns to Tecoma capenis (Cape Honeysuckle).
      • Propagation: Seeds (does not seem to set seed in Hawaii), Cutting, Layer
      • Minimum USDA Hardiness Zone: 10b
      • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): -2, Low Risk
      Additional Reference for this post: University of Florida Fact Sheet

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