PlantFiles is getting a new look! Just in time for spring, we're rolling out a new look for the best online plants database. It will also work with your smart phones and mobile devices, so now you can take it with you on garden center visits or botanical garden tours. Questions or comments? Please post them here.
There has been a lot of discussion about snail vine versus corkscrew vine and the names. I looked in the A-Z Encyclopedia and Hortus Third. Vigna caracalla is listed as a synonym for phaseolus caracalla as is phaseolus grandiflora. This plant is give the common names of corkscrew or snail vine in both books. Snail Vine, i.e. the purple one we call snail vine, is no where to be found in any of the books I have and when found on the internet it's listed as both phaseolus caracalla, phaseolus grandiflora and vigna caracalla.
I've been reading about both vigna and phaseolus. They are either bush type plants like bush beans and peas, or vining plants. Snail vine isn't really a climbing plant but prefers to grow along the ground(at least the ones I've had seem to prefer to run along the ground, maybe I have weird plants.) Ya know what it reminds me of? Centrosema...the butterfly pea of the southeastern US. I don't think Snail Vine is either a vigna or a phaseolus. What does everyone else think? Why isn't it in Hortus, or am I looking in the wrong place? It's been grown for years as an ornamental vine. Who do you ask when you have a question on what a plants real name is? Just something I was wondering about, lol. I guess I have too much time on my hands.
I can't get those links to work. I'll go to Almost Eden and see what I can find.
I went to Almost Eden, they have the corkscrew as vigna caracalla and the snail vine as phaseolus giganteus. Here is what Hortus Third says about phaseolus giganteus: "a listed name of no botanical standing applied to a plant apparently not different from vigna caracalla." and when I go to vigna caracalla it describes the flowers as "fragrant, white or yellow with pink-purple wings, to 2 inches long, keel coiled like a snail shell" which describes what we call a corkscrew vine flower. I'm so confused!
Just because someone (even a nurseryman, or book) calls a plant something, it may not always be correct. They may have innocently have passed on mis-information.
That is the case with the snail vine and the corkscrew flower. This is somewhat the dilemna that the datura and brugmansia were in just a few years ago, and some people, STILL get these two mixed up(even catalogs!)
I grow both, and anyone who has, can tell you that there is no way that these can be considered the same plants.
Snail vines(correctly called phaseolus caracalla, or phaseolus gigantea) are much different than the corkscrew flower(correctly called vigna caracalla).
Phaseolus means "wild", and that correctly describes the snail vine, as compared to the corkscrew. It has very vigorous, if not aggressive, growing habits. Its flowering is continuous from Spring until Fall. The blooms are small and primarily purple. There is no fragrance. They will tolerate full sun to partial shade. They return from the ground in the Spring, and are hardy (I've heard) to zone 6 from the ground. The seeds are quite tiny-about the size of a clitoria seed, and about 1/5 the size of the corkscrew seed.
The corkscrew flower are not nearly as agressive growers. In fact, they can be fussy. Mine frequently go yellow(leaves turn yellow), or even drop leaves when it rains too much. They need very little suplemental watering and need more fertilizer to stay healthy if watered too frequently(much less that your other plants). Its flowering is only at the end of the season in Fall. The blooms are larger and are more spiraled. They are primarily cream with some violet streaking. They are very fragrant and remind me of a very strong jasmine. They seem to need more sun than the snail vine, and do not do well in partial shade. They are much more frost tender and need a very mild, dry winter in order to return. The seeds are about half the size of kidney bean.
We had our mildest winter in a decade here in Texas(zone 8) this past winter, and yet all my corkscrew flowers planted in the ground, died. All the snail vine not only returned, but returned with more vigor, and become greater in size, each year.
The only similarities, as I can see them, are that they are both legumes, they both have similar leaf shape(although the snail still have more rounded edges, and the corkscrew more pointed edges of the leaves), they both have a pretty flower, and ants are the pollinators... aside from those, they are actually more different than they are similar.
It is, at this point, more reliable to go by the common names, than the botanical names, since so many people and sources still have them so mixed up.
I can also tell you that Thompson & Morgan and Parks both sell the Corkscrew flower. This seems to be the one most people want to have, because of its fragrance. They usually sell out around January, just after Christmas.
Personally, I am a bigger fan of the snail vine, but enjoy them both.
(((hugs))) to you Susie! There is too much conflicting information regarding the two plants "correct" botanical name that I have basically turned belly up. I too wish there was a source to correctly ID it but alas no one seems to have found it, or even if the info does exist. There have been several threads here open for debate so I have decided to now lurk and learn regarding these vines and the proper ID. My consensus is that corkscrew is vigna and snail vine is phaseolus, but you will always find the information IDing them different...
Seedpicker, I have read all the information that you stated and that's why I'm still confused. Many books say phaseolus caracalla/giganteus is the synonym for vigna caracalla and catalogs use phaseolus and vigna both for the corkscrew vine. Nowhere is a purple flower mentioned, only the cream/yellow flower of the corkscrew vine is described. That's why I'm confused. Why isn't a purple flower at least mentioned?
I have both vines, have had both for several years. Neither the snail vine nor the corkscrew vines came back from a TN zone 7 winter, but both survived in the greenhouse and both survived the move to TX. The snail vine seems to love Texas and has spread out all along the ground, but the corkscrew vine is not happy this year and is growing slow. Could be the pH is not right or I've not fertilized correctly. I know it's not the heat because a couple of years ago one grew in my greenhouse all summer and loved it even though it got over a hundred degrees in there on hot sunny days.
Moonlighting, I'm with you, I wish there was a source to go to to say "What is this really called?" I agree that the corkscrew is vigna caracalla, but I'm not convinced that the snail vine is either phaseolus or vigna. Wonder where it originated?
They LOVE humidity, the corkscrew vines I mean. I've had one that grew more than a foot in less than a week when it was humid the whole week. When it's dry, I water it lightly but daily but mist the foliage heavily which it really seems to like.
I don't know why companies try to pass snail vine off as corkscrew and vise vera. Maybe they don't know, don't care or one doesn't sell quite as well under the other name?
On April 1, 1792, Thomas Jefferson wrote to Benjamin Hawkins about the Caracalla Bean saying "The most beautiful bean in the world is the caracalla bean which, though in England a green-house plant, will grow in the open air in Virginia and Carolina." Also known as Snail Flower or Corkscrew Flower, Caracalla Bean is a tender perennial with striking purplish-blue and white, highly fragrant flowers. It was introduced into European gardens from its native South America in the eighteenth century. Whether Jefferson ever received seeds or plants of this vine is not known. However, the plant was grown in gardens by the 1830s, when Robert Buist wrote in The American Flower Garden Directory, "Phaseolus caracalla (syn. Vigna caracalla), or Snail-Flower is a very curious blooming plant, with flowers of a greenish yellow, all spirally twisted, in great profusion when the plant is well grown."
Captmicha, I wonder if misting would help my corkscrew vines grow? I will have to be careful though and not sunburn the leaves.
Moonlighting, I understand how corkscrew got to be called snail vine and why it has two botanical names, but it still doesn't explain what the purple one is. I give up, and since they aren't important floriculture crops like mums or petunias, I doubt we will ever know what the name of the purple snail vine really is.
I bought my corkscrew vine from Logee's and it is the Vigna Caracalla. I also bought the snail vine from them when they carried them. Both different plants, so I think they have them straight for ordering.
Cala, I mist mine in full sun at the peak of the heat and nothing phases this guy. The plant loves it. I think it may evaporate so quickly that it doesn't get a chance to burn. Maybe try it on a section of the plant?
Capt, thanks for the tip. I'll give it a try. I gave the plant a little acid plant food this past weekend and we got a good soaking rain, so maybe it will decide to grow.
Moonlighting and Donna, don't worry about hijacking the thread. I'm gonna have to go look up the vigna lutea now cause it sounds pretty!
I too am interested in seeing a pic of your vigna lutea, jaredsmom. I am wondering if it is what I posted needing an id on. http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/451245/
I wonder whether I have lutea instead of marina. Does mine look like yours?
Does any one have any other sources for corkscrew? The commericial sites I have found surfing are always sold out and I'm really tired of buying what's supposed to be corkscrew and getting snail vine. It won't be long before I can cover the entire great wall of Chine with snail vine
Hi, I wanted to ask some different questions about these two vines. I've read several different things and am way confussed. I've heard that they are pollinated by ants and others have said no they just attract them, pollinated by bees. I've read that in zones 9 and above they are evergreen and will bloom year round. Which one does this? The name is the least confussing to me, I just think white or purple or smelly, not smelly. It's the care and characteristics of the two where I get really confussed. I'm quessing by the difference in price that the white vine is harder to get seed from. Of coarse from many things I've read, it's also not uncommon for someone to order white vine and end up with purple vine. I've been trying to get white vine but have decided to wait at least a year after reading this. I'm a new gardener and it sounds like the purple would be a safer bet for me to learn on. I would love it if we could get a discussion going on everyones expierences in raising the white vine to help us new to the viners learn and maybe someday be able to add seed to the need. Thank you. Robyn
Thank you for responding. Can you tell me are they pollanated by bees or ants? Also, how do you deal with the ants? I want to make sure that I will enjoy these before I spend money on the seeds. I also saw that you have garlic vine, how do you like that? Thank you again for responding
It was passed around for a while that they are pollinated by ants, but I've discovered that this is not true. I've seen ants on the plants, but it was probably just because they wanted the flower nectar.
A few years back I noticed large carpenter bees on my purple snail vine, and watched one up close. They push their way under the spiraled part toward the inside of the bloom. This makes the stigma spiral out and it gets brushed with pollen from the bees back.
I watched this over and over and it was the best year for seed production on those, that I've ever had. I've even pollinated them myself, which is easy to do. Just hold the lower petal while pulling the uppermost petal upward. You will see the stigma spiral out.