Ceropegia (2011)

PhotoBy Chris Deem (July 2011)

Low clouds obscure the stars on this moonless night, a night of ambiguous shadows. In the darkness, a strangely shaped flower is illuminated by a pulsing green light, a light without warmth, cold and rhythmic.

In the green flashes, its appearance is altered in false flashes of brown and green. The flower’s true colors, maroon red and white, are lost in the deep shadows. It is a brief, glowing moment on a diminutive Chinese lanternlike flower … then darkness.

On a warm summer night, obscured in the shadows, a ceropegia flower awaits a pollinator. Sadly, an adult firefly does not eat, but on a moonless night in a cold, green light, its hunger is answered.

Ceropegia plants are members of an interesting genus in the family Asclepiadaceae. These plants, as a group, are usually vinelike, and many species are tuber-forming plants. The majority of Ceropegia species are said to grow well in sunny locations. However, in areas of intense heat and light, some shading is certainly prudent.

Madagascar, India, Africa and the Canary Islands were all listed as habitats of various Ceropegia species. Interesting facts, I suppose, but to me, their intricate flowers are rather more fascinating. The flowers are designed to be traps, benign and temporary, perhaps, just a way to increase the plants’ chances of being pollinated. However, if your imaginings are a bit darker, like mine, as you look at them, your thoughts might turn to the world of carnivorous plants.