A Biennial, Native Vine
I had never even heard of a biennial vine until Allegheny vine showed up in my garden. What does biennial mean? It means it takes two years to get to the blooming stage, and then it dies.
However, in its second year, the “mound” or rosette starts to climb.
There is no mistaking it for tall meadow rue now.
By July delicate pink flowers dangle in clusters as the vine continues to climb.
As you might suspect from the appearance of the flowers, Allegheny vine is related to bleeding hearts (Dicentra spp.) and corydalis, among others. (Some say they have their own family, Fumariaceae, but others say they are merely a section of the poppy family.)
A Native Plant with Mysterious Origins
You may have noticed I said this plant showed up in my garden. I never planted it, and its first appearance in my nascent flower bed started quite the detective hunt, back in the pre-internet days. It is native throughout northeastern North America, but I have never seen it growing in any of the wild areas hereabouts. So where did it come from? It is sad to think it may once have grown wild here, and has now been extirpated from the local ecosystem. It is intriguing to think that one of the former owners of our house traded seed by mail or swapped plants with another gardener, and introduced this lovely, emphemeral plant to the garden I now tend.
How to Grow Adlumia fungosa
I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know how to grow Allegheny vine, which is also called climbing fumitory and–my favorite–mountain fringe. I have saved seeds and tried to sow them, without a single one germinating. It is one of those plants that I can’t grow, but if I wait patiently, it shows up on its own. It doesn’t show up every year, mind you, and rarely shows up twice in the same spot, though it always chooses a fairly moist spot. This particular plant, blooming in 2009, is probably the most spectacular vine I’ve been privileged to watch grow. If you’ve managed to grow it from seed, I’d appreciate any tips you could pass along.