Flowering outside my door today is the Black Coral Pea. Native to south-western Western Australia, it’s a tough vine that doesn’t seem to be deterred by clay soil and dry conditions. The leaves are leathery and evergreen in the Bay Area and it doesn’t mind a touch of frost.
It is vigorous. I bought a 6 inch plant from Annie’s Annuals and planted it in the summer of 2014. It’s now 15 feet high. Despite the vigor, it is easy to handle as the vine is twining rather than grasping.
The black and yellow flowers are unusual and exquisite.
The species was first described by John Lindley in 1835 in Edward’s Botanical Register. It was named after John Kennedy, of the famous London nursery of Lee and Kennedy. The nursery was famous for its introductions of Fuchsia magellanica and Dahlias to the English garden world. From the French, they introduced roses grown as standards (it’s hard to forgive them for that).