Friday, December 4, 2015

Lovers Twine

Glycine clandestina


This is a pretty irritating little plant.

At its best, which it is at this time of year, it is pretty, with its clusters of little mauve flowers liberally sprinkled over the plants, which twine up through other plants in the garden, never climbing higher than about 60cm. It’s so pretty that I wonder why I am such a grump as to find it irritating for most of the rest of the year.

But I do.

It’s just that it spreads so sneakily, spreading through the garden, producing so many of its thread-like little twining stems that they go into tangles, neither very pretty once the best of the flowering is over, nor really ugly enough for me to make a serious push to get rid of them completely.

Not that I ever could.

The fine stems also spread unperceived over the ground, rooting at the nodes. Each root grows into a little tuber like a miniature parsnip, making it impossible to pull the plants out. The fine stems simply break off. To get rid of them is a matter of digging out the tubers individually.

And the flowers all produce hairy little pea-like pods of seeds, so new plants spring up all over the place.

Some gardeners seem fond of them, and say that they “prune” them, and get more attractive plants as a result. “Pruning” can be done, and does reduce the general messiness. It consists of combing the fingers through the tangles of lovers twine, pulling it off the other garden plants, until the patch of garden is reduced to a reasonable appearance.

The plants bear some resemblance to that other little native purple pea, Hardenbergia violacea (below). Hardenbergia, however, flowers earlier in the year and  has single leaves...

while the leaves of lovers twine are trifoliate.

Unlike some native peas, glycines can safely be eaten by stock.  

(Note: This plant should not be confused with the weedy  "glycine" Neonotonia wightii (Glycine javanica),  which is so hated by bushcare groups between the bottom of the Great Dividing Range and the coast.  This African interloper is a major problem for the native environment. It is a large,  and large-leafed, aggressive vine which covers and smothers native vegetation. Our own little native Glycine has much better manners. It does spread itself about, but never damages other vegetation.)


Anonymous said...

thank you for this id. exactly what i have this in my garden south coast nsw

Patricia Gardner said...

I'm glad to hear my post was useful. We do need more information about our less showy native plants on the net, don't we? It can be very difficult for those without much prior experience to learn about them.