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Allamanda cathartica. [CREDIT: pixabay.com, Dezalb]

Master Gardener Volunteers on… the all-too-troublesome allamanda

By Dianne Beaver
Master Gardener Volunteer Program team member

With large, bright-yellow flowers and vibrant-green leaves, Allamanda cathartica seems like the perfect plant to brighten up your patio or front garden area. It is a vigorous grower, virtually pest free, and beautiful to behold.

But, beware.

Below the colorful surface of this plant lurks an overactive, invasive plant. In fact, the University of Florida classifies this native of South and Central America as a “High Invasion Risk” in all of Florida. And, the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) does not recommend this plant.

All about allamanda

Allamanda cathartica. [CREDIT: pixabay.com, MW]

Allamanda cathartica. [CREDIT: pixabay.com, MW]

You may know this plant by the common names of brownbud allamanda, golden trumpet vine, or yellow allamanda. It is a vigorously climbing vine with leathery evergreen leaves arranged in whorls of 4 at intervals along the stem and bright yellow flowers. The stems twine to 6 yards or more and contain milky sap. The milky sap is typical of all allamandas. And, like all allamandas, all parts of the plant are poisonous.

The lance-shaped leaves are about 2.5 inches long and 1 inch wide. Golden-yellow, funnel-shaped flowers up to around 9 cm long and 6 cm in diameter are held in groups of 12 on short branches at the ends of shoots or in the leaf axils. Prickly seed pods develop and contain winged seeds.

All in the family

A. schottii is another bright-yellow flowered plant that is also considered invasive in Florida. It is a shrub, native to Brazil.

The common name is bush allamanda, and you may see its synonym, A. neriifolia. Even though this plant is widely available at big-box stores and other nurseries, IFAS has concluded that this plant is a “High Invasion Risk” in Central, North and South Florida.

Bush allamanda is hardy in plant hardiness zones 10 and 11, as determined by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, and is relatively drought tolerant.

Allamanda alternatives

There are very attractive alternatives to A. cathartica which are not invasive in Florida.

Wild allamanda

Wild allamanda (Urechites lutea). [CREDIT: pixabay.com, Bishnu Sarangi]

Wild allamanda (Urechites lutea). [CREDIT: pixabay.com, Bishnu Sarangi]

One alternative is a Florida native: wild allamanda, Urechites lutea. It is a spreading, vine-like shrub that is a very aggressive grower. Left alone, it will climb over nearby shrubs, trees, and other structures. But, it is easy to control.

Like A. cathartica, it produces yellow flowers about 2.5 inches across. While U. lutea flowers are not as abundant as A. cathartica, there are some flowers produced year round. U. lutea is hardy in USDA zones 10b through 11. It grows in part shade/part sun, is drought tolerant, and generally pest free.

Dwarf allamanda

Also not considered invasive in Florida, the dwarf allamanda (A. cathartica ‘Compacta’)—also known as “dwarf Jenny”—is a small shrub with yellow flowers and deep green leaves.

This variety of allamanda stays small and is perfect for placing in front of a border or in small sunny spaces. They grow at a moderate rate and reach about 2 feet tall. They like full sun and are moderately drought tolerant, but do best with regular irrigation. They will not live in wet areas. Dwarf allamanda flower in warm-weather seasons.

RESOURCES
About the Author
Dianne Beaver is a UF/IFAS Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, a graduating member of the Class of 2020.

2 Comments on “Master Gardener Volunteers on… the all-too-troublesome allamanda

  1. Wonderful article. So informative and hopefully let folks know you can still enjoy this beauty using specific varieties.

  2. Thank you. I had a large Allamanda in our Garden in Pompano Beach. We also had a 12 week old German Shepherd Dog. When learning of the poisonous nature of the plant, we removed it. It was a lovely part of thee garden for a short while.

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