Bignonia is a climbing evergreen plant, belonging to the Bignoniaceae family. Originally it was known as Teocoma, then take the name of the famous academic and
librarian Paul Brignon.
Its posture makes it very used to decorate pergolas, gazebos, garden walls; the plant shows an aerial part made up of long branches that have small suckers suitable to adhere to the most different supports.
The foliage is lanceolate and with serrated edges: if in summer it is bright green, in autumn it is covered with an orange color. Winter coincides with the vegetative period of the plant which will therefore lose all the leaves.
The Bignonia is characterized by large flowers in the shape of a trumpet, with 5 petals curled on the tips and ranging from red to orange to pink: their intense aroma attracts bees, wasps and hornets.
To date, there are 450 species of Bignonia, some originating from the Asian continent, others from the American one. Among all these stand out: the widespread Bignonia Campsis Radicans, originally from Virginia; the Asian Campsis Grandiflora that can not stand the intense cold and is less climbing; the Bignonia Capreolata, similar to honeysuckle and known for the heights that reaches very quickly.
The Bignonia does not need special care: it loves sunny environments and sheltered from the currents and the cooler winds. To guarantee a luxuriant growth of the plant, it is sufficient to prepare an organic, dry and well drained soil: it is important to water the Bignonia only when the soil is dry. The rain will generally be sufficient for an adult plant, to be integrated in drought periods.
A luxuriant growth of the plant can be helped by fertilizing it, with a slow-release granular mineral insecticide, every 3-4 months. Pruning is also important, to be carried out preferably in February: it is recommended to shorten the oldest branches up to a few cm from the ground, as the Bignonia flourishes only on new branches.
The Bignonia is, like all plants, subject to attacks by pests. In case of aphids, it is advisable to hunt these insects with powerful jets of water and, if necessary, use an insecticide. A specific product is to be used in the case of cochineal, which can also be countered by using white oil.
The excessive humidity causes not only rotten roots, but also the appearance of the fungus called "white mal" and comes in the form of white spots: it would be appropriate to use not only a fungicide but also operate a thinning of the plant.
In South America (in particular in Peru, Argentina and Mexico) Bignonia is used as a good-luck plant: it often adorns churches and doors of houses. In the language of flowers, in fact, giving away Bignonia means wishing success and prosperity.
The Celtic legends tell then that the beings of the small people, above all fairies and elves, are transformed into this beautiful plant once dead. Very similar are the stories of ancient Greece, according to which even the Muses, once spirated, were transformed into Bignonie, plants sacred to the sun god, Apollo.
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