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


Pithecoctenium crucigerum (Monkey's comb)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Bignoniaceae
Genus: Pithecoctenium
Species: P. crucigerum
Binominal name: Pithecoctenium crucigerum
Synonym: Bignonia crucigera
Common names: Monkey's comb, Monkey's hairbrush, Brazilian white bellflower, Monkeycomb,


Pithecoctenium crucigerum is the Bignoniaceae family which consists of some 20 species of climbing shrubs. 
Pithecoctenium crucigerum is semi-evergreen vine from southern Mexico, south to Brazil. It was not known to be in NZ prior to being found in Wanganui in 2003. It is now coincided to be a new emerging threat. 
Pithecoctenium crucigerum is now been banned in New Zealand after it was listed as invasive species. It is now illegal under the Biosecurity Act to propagate, distribute or sell this plant - either casually or through nurseries - but existing plants are still allowed on private properties.

Pithecoctenium crucigerum is a vigorous climbing vine that can grow high up into the canopy of trees and eventually it develops thick woody stems with hexagonal branches. Its younger stems are six-sided and have raised ribs, these are lost with age.
The leaves arranged in opposite pairs. These leaves are borne on stalks 2-11 cm long, are compound, and may be of two distinct structural types. Some leaves have three leaflets, but most usually have the third leaflet replaced by a tendril (which can sometimes be lost with age). The tendrils, when present, are usually coiled and always branched near their tips. The leaflets are relatively broad and often heart-shaped (4-17 cm long and 2-12 cm wide) with entire margins and are usually drawn out into a pointed tip.
During summer this vine produces terminal, elongated clusters (3-27 cm long) of fleshy, tubular flowers (5 cm long). Each flower has a small green cup-shaped structure at the base (8-15 mm wide), which is formed from the fused sepals. The petals are also fused together into a long tube (3-6 cm long) which has an obvious bend near the base and five small spreading lobes at the tip. The outside of the flower is cream in colour and velvety hairy in nature, while the inside and the petal lobes are usually yellow.
It has a distinctive fruit which is a large, brown, flattened woody, elliptic, about hand-size, flattish capsule (up to 30 x 7 cm). It is is very prickly and contains winged seeds. When ripe the capsule splits split so that a mass of translucent, silvery, waferlike seeds drop from the spiny husk, usually one or two at a time.
Thanks to Technigro Australia for some of the above information.





Pithecoctenium crucigerum leaves


Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0