A native vine that you may have never considered is a relative of other similar and more familiar landscape plants – the allamandas. Specifically, the wild allamanda (Urechites lutea aka Pentalinon luteum) is a vine-like shrub, very adaptable to our soils, and can easily be managed to the size you want it. Blooming now in landscape near you – the wild allamanda!
We are often faced by the dilemma when an old favorite is starting to show an invasive nature. This is the case with yellow allamanda or Allamanda cathartica. Although not yet on an invasive list, the UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas has evaluated this plant with their predictive tool and believe it to be a “High Invasion Risk” and is not recommended. Fortunately, if you are in the market for a yellow allamanda, the wild allamanda may be an excellent substitute.
Found growing wild in several southern Florida counties and on down into the Caribbean and parts of Central America, the wild allamanda grows more like a vine and sprawls over the trees and shrubs found in its environment. The yellow two- and one-half-inch wide flowers are produced pretty much year-round. The ability of this plant to be trained or at least supported on structures ranging from espalier frames, trellises and arbors to small fences is a great attribute. The woody stems also have the stiffness to be trimmed as a low hedge. Regular clipping will keep this flowering evergreen in bounds and in neat condition. We have one growing in our Demonstration Garden on Harborview Road trained in Port Charlotte on a small lattice trellis which is about six-foot tall and six-foot wide. It is presently in full bloom and putting on quite a show.
The wild allamanda is very drought tolerant and has moderate tolerance to coastal conditions and salty air. It is also very happy in alkaline soils of which we have an abundance in our residential-fill soils. While full sun will stimulate more flowers, the wild allamanda can tolerate part shade. If you are planting multiple specimens, give them at least thirty-six up to sixty inches between plants for best results. Propagation can be accomplished by cuttings or division.
Perhaps the biggest pest we have encountered with wild allamanda is the oleander caterpillar. As allamandas are in the same family as oleanders (Apocynaceae) (all parts are toxic to humans by the way) oleander caterpillars have done a job on our plant from time to time. The use of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) will control caterpillars when used as per label instructions. Hand-picking also works well.
The wild allamanda can be damaged by frosts but will normally grow back without a problem. As a vine or a good-natured shrub, the wild allamanda is a great plant and is a suitable landscape subject. You will probably have to search around for this one, and it may be more readily available at regional native nurseries and family run garden centers. For more information on all types of flowering plants that can be used in our local landscapes, you can also call the Master Gardener Volunteer Helpdesk on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer.
Ralph E. Mitchell is the Director/Horticulture Agent for UF/IFAS Extension Charlotte County. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or email@example.com.
Gilman, E. F. (2014) Urechites lutea – Wild Allamanda. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Gilman, E. F. (1999) Allamanda cathartica. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
The UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas. (2022) The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Pentalinon luteum (2022) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentalinon_luteum