trumpet creeper
photograph by Signa Williams

Few plants can beautify a lowly utility pole the way a flowering trumpet creeper vine can.

Subtle it is not. Long after many wildflowers have wilted in the midsummer heat, trumpet creeper cranks out flamboyant scarlet-orange blossoms. The vine climbs its way over anything in its path, scaling trees, rocks, fences, and walls. In the woods, it cascades down from the canopy like a vernal waterfall. In the backyard, it will run away like a train. But wherever it grows, trumpet creeper gives as much as it takes, and its beauty is more than skin deep. Hummingbirds drink deeply of its copious nectar. Sphinx moth caterpillars feed on its leaves. Warblers and thrashers and wrens nest in its dense tendrils, protected by a vine gone wild.


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Nickens is editor-at-large of Field & Stream and the author of The Total Outdoorsman Manual. His articles also appear in Smithsonian and Audubon magazines.