Leaf of the Day: Winged Beauty

If any vine belongs in fairyland it’s this one, the enchanting Winged Beauty Dalechampia dioscoraefolia, Bow tie plant,or Costa Rican Butterfly Vine. These beautiful purple/ lilac structures are of course not leaves or petals but bracts which can reach as much as 5″ across. The “flower” is set above these two bracts. It is one of the euphorbia family which I looked at in more detail with Liz Leech at West Dean. It has slender stems, with very lovely heart-shaped leaves.There seems to be a white version too and, as I have been researching this, I find there are other varieties with even more fascinating flower structures.

Dalechampias are pollinated by the equally pretty little iridescent Euglossia orchid bees and when I get round to painting an orchid (it won’t be long as I am here in Florida) I will find out more about them. They are interesting little bees who spend much of their busy lives collecting fragrance as opposed to nectar and tucking it into their outsize trousers which make them look as though they are wearing jodhpurs.That won’t win any prizes in the apiology description class but you see what I mean in this excellent photograph from orchidspecies.com

The flowers structure in this vine is very odd but quite beautiful and I can see I have to go back and revise some more to understand exactly what is what here.I was interested in the front and side view of the “flower”. There are 3 bright red somethings attached to a round something which has a split covering revealing something very sticky ( I didn’t include the remains of an ant which were stuck onto this bit) with 3 small yellow flowery things on the top. Liz…I need your help. I had a problem with the instant shrivelling up of the leaves on this one too and they darkened as they dried out so I think the true colour is lighter blue. I just have to get quicker.

With the onset of a new month I am trying to make a rule to make at least 5 colour sketches each week no matter if they are finished or not. The next SBA assignment is to paint flower heads so I have to get some practice in.I want it to become as easy to pick up the paintbrushes and colours as it now is to pick up a pencil.

Winged Beauty