T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Cobaea scandens (Cup and Saucer Vine)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Polemoniaceae
Genus: Cobaea
Species: C. scandens
Binomial name: Cobaea scandens
Common name: Cup and Saucer Vine, Cathedral bells, Mexican ivy, Monastery bells


Cobaea scandens is a species of flowering perennial, invasive vine of the Polemoniaceae family, native to Central and South America.
In New Zealand it is listed in the National Pest Plant Accord species list as a problem nationwide. If sighted it should be reported to the Local Regional Council. It is at present scattered in the Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Wellington provinces in the North Island. In the South Island it is reported at Karamea in Westland. Because of its fast, invasive growth it smothers all native vegetation up to medium to high canopies killing trees and suppresses the growth of seedlings.

Cobaea scandens is a fast growing, evergreen, perennial climber. Its stems can be 10 metres long but less than 2 cm in diameter. The hairless leaflets are usually in three pairs with tendrils. Each leaflet oval, 4-12 cm long by 2-5 cm wide, dark green above, whitish underneath, with a brown stalk. The terminal pair of leaflet’s mid-rib ends with a twining tendril.
Cobaea scandens bell shaped flowers (6-7 cm long) are green when young and turn to a light to deep purple after the pollen has been shed. They appear during December to May.
The large, oval fruit (5.5-8.5 cm long) explodes open during summer to release broad, winged seeds (10-15 mm long including the wing) that can be dispersed by wind or water. The plant is also spread through dumped vegetation and soil movement.





New flower before they turn purple.