Ceropegias are an interesting group of plants which have attracted much attention from botanists, horticulturalists, gardeners, succulent enthusiasts. Carl Linnaeus, who first described this genus in volume 1 of his Species plantarum, which appeared in 1753, thought that the flowers looked like a fountain of wax. From this the scientific name was derived: ‘keros’ meaning wax and ‘pege’ meaning fountain (Pooley, 1998). They have many common names including lantern flower, parasol flower, parachute flower, bushman’s pipe, string of hearts, snake creeper, wine-glass vine, rosary vine, necklace vine and condom flower.
Many Ceropegia species have been taken as ornamental houseplants, and some of these are commercially available. They can be propagated by seed and cuttings.
The flowers have a tubular corolla with five petals most often fused at the tips, forming an umbrella-like canopy, a cage, or appendage-like antennae (Dyer, 1983). An interesting feature of Ceropegias is that their flower tubes are lined with small hairs that point downward to form a trap for small flies. When flies are attracted into the flower by the odour they are prevented from escaping until the hairs wither, the pollinia of the Ceropegia flower being attached to the flies’ bodies when they escape.
Pooley, E. 1998. A field guide to Wild Flowers KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.