|Rhodochiton atrosanguineus from Paxton's Magazine of Botany, vol. 2 (1836)|
Zucc. ex Otto & A.Dietr.
Rhodochiton is a genus of flowering plants within the family Scrophulariaceae, native to southern Mexico and neighbouring Guatemala. They climb by means of twining leaf stalks. One of the three species, Rhodochiton atrosanguineus, the purple bell vine, is grown as an ornamental plant. All three species are sometimes included in Lophospermum.
Rhodochiton species are herbaceous perennials. They have long climbing or sprawling stems, branching and becoming woody at the base with age. They cling by means of twining leaf stalks (petioles). Their leaves are more or less heart-shaped, with pointed ends.
The solitary flowers are carried on relatively long stalks (peduncles) that are pendant, causing the flowers to hang downwards. The sepals, usually tinted rose or purple, are joined at the base and together form an expanded bell shape around the flower. The five petals are joined at the base to form a tube, light purple at the base and dark purple towards the tips. The free ends of the petals are either all bent backwards (R. atrosanguineus) or differentiated into two groups (the other two species): the upper two being bent backwards and the lower two facing forwards. There are four stamens, either all more or less the same length or in two pairs of different lengths. The fifth stamen is sterile and rudimentary. After fertilization a globe shaped capsule forms.
Wayne J. Elisens has outlined the somewhat confused taxonomic history of the genus name Rhodochiton. In 1829, Joseph Gerhard Zuccarini sent seeds and a description to individuals and botanical gardens under the name "Rhodochiton volubile"; however this name was not published so no new genus name was established. In 1832, Zuccarini published the name Lophospermum atrosanguineum for the same species, writing that "I held it at first to be new genus and sent the seeds obtained in the summer of 1829 to several gardens under the name Rhodochiton volubile. The figure in the Botanical Register [of Lophospermum erubescens D.Don] has convinced me of the identity of the genus" (i.e. that it was Lophospermum rather than a new genus). Not knowing of Zuccharini's change of name, in 1834 Christoph Friedrich Otto and Albert Gottfried Dietrich published and illustrated Rhodochiton volubilis. This is taken as the date for the publication of the generic name.[Note 1]
The genus is placed in the tribe Antirrhineae; within this tribe, it is closely related to Lophospermum, Maurandya (including Maurandella) and Mabrya. It has been included in Lophospermum as section Rhodochiton.
A number of molecular phylogenetic studies have shown that subtribe Maurandyinae, defined by Elisens to consist of the five North American genera Holmgrenanthe, Lophospermum, Mabrya, Maurandya and Rhodochiton, forms a monophyletic group, which is related to the Old World genera Cymbalaria and Asarina. Gehebrehiwet et al. suggested that the Maurandyinae could be expanded to include Cymbalaria and Asarina. Vargas et al. presented the following cladogram in 2013, in which Rhodochiton is sister to the combination of Lophospermum and Mabrya, so that including it in Lophospermum would make the latter paraphyletic.
Vargas et al. concluded that the Antirrhineae evolved in the Old World and subsequently colonized North America more than once, probably in the Miocene epoch ( ). One such colonization led to the evolution of the Maurandyinae (in Elisen's sense).
- Rhodochiton atrosanguineus (Zucc.) Rothm. (syn. R. volubilis)
- Rhodochiton hintonii (Elisens) D.A.Sutton
- Rhodochiton nubicola (Elisens) D.A.Sutton
As noted above, Elisens places all three in Lophospermum section Rhodochiton.
Distribution and habitat
The three species of Rhodochiton have very local distributions: in the Sierra Madre del Sur, Mexico; northern Oaxaca, Mexico; and Chiapas, Mexico and neighbouring Guatemala. All grow in montane cloud forests, at altitudes of between 1,300 and 3,500 metres (4,300 and 11,500 ft). Elisens described their habitats as "relatively inaccessible".
Rhodochiton atrosanguineus was in cultivation before 1828, when seeds were given to Zuccarini by Baron Karwinski. In 1836, Joseph Paxton included it in a "select list of ornamental creepers". In frost-free areas it is perennial; in areas prone to winter frosts it can either be grown under glass as a perennial or outside as an annual, propagated from seed. In such conditions, it reaches a height of about 1.5–2.5 m (5–8 ft).
- The name published originally was Rhodochiton volubile. However, chiton in Greek is masculine, so the epithet should be volubilis. The International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants requires incorrect genders to be corrected.
- "Rhodochiton Zucc. ex Otto & A.Dietr.", Tropicos, Missouri Botanical Garden, retrieved 2014-07-22
- Elisens, Wayne J. (1985), "Monograph of the Maurandyinae (Scrophulariaceae-Antirrhineae)", Systematic Botany Monographs, 5: 1–97, doi:10.2307/25027602, JSTOR 25027602; all Rhodochiton species are placed in Lophospermum section Rhodochiton.
- Elisens 1985, p. 4
- Zuccarini, J.G. (1832), "Plantarum novarum vel minus cognitarum, quae in horto botanico herbarioque regio monacensi servantur", Abhandlungen der Mathematisch-Physikalischen Classe der Königlich Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1: 289–396, doi:10.5962/bhl.title.9506, retrieved 2014-07-22, pp. 306–307 – "German: Der hiesige Garten erhielt im Jahr 1828 durch Hrn. Baron Karwinski Samen einer dritten Art dieser schönen Gattung, welche im wärmeren Europa eine bedeutende Stelle unter den feineren Zierpflanzen einzunehmen verspricht. Ich hielt sie anfangs, da Don's Gattungscharakter in einigen Dingen abweicht, für ein neues Genus und versendete die im Sommer 1829 gewonnenen Samen unter dem Namen Rhodochiton volubile an mehrere Gärten. Die Abbildung im Botanical Register hat mich von der Identität der Gattung überzeugt." (The local garden received in 1828 from Baron Karwinski seeds of a third species of this beautiful genus, which, in the warmer parts of Europe, promises to take a significant place among the finer ornamental plants. Because Don's generic character differs in some ways, I held it at first to be new genus and sent the seeds obtained in the summer of 1829 to several gardens under the name Rhodochiton volubile. The figure in the Botanical Register has convinced me of the identity of the genus.)
- Farr, E.R.; Zijlstra, G., eds. (n.d.) [1996 onwards], "ING Database Rhodochiton", Index Nominum Genericorum (Plantarum), retrieved 2014-07-23
- Vargas, P; Rosselló, J.A.; Oyama, R. & Güemes, J. (2004), "Molecular evidence for naturalness of genera in the tribe Antirrhineae (Scrophulariaceae) and three independent evolutionary lineages from the New World and the Old", Plant Systematics and Evolution, 249 (3-4): 151–172, doi:10.1007/s00606-004-0216-1, retrieved 2014-07-11
- "Rhodochiton Zucc. ex Otto & A. Dietr.", Tropicos.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, retrieved 2014-07-12
- Ghebrehiwet, Medhanie; Bremer, Birgitta & Thulin, Mats Thulin (2000), "Phylogeny of the tribe Antirrhineae (Scrophulariaceae) based on morphological and ndhF sequence data", Plant Systematics and Evolution, 220 (3-4): 223–239, doi:10.1007/bf00985047, retrieved 2014-07-12
- Vargas, Pablo; Valente, Luis M.; Blanco-Pastor, José Luis; Liberal, Isabel; Guzmán, Beatriz; Cano, Emilio; Forrest, Alan & Fernández-Mazuecos, Mario (2013), "Testing the biogeographical congruence of palaeofloras using molecular phylogenetics: snapdragons and the Madrean–Tethyan flora", Journal of Biogeography, 41 (5): 932–943, doi:10.1111/jbi.12253
- "Rhodochiton Zucc. ex Otto & A. Dietr.: subordinate taxa", Tropicos.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, retrieved 2014-07-24
- "Search for Rhodochiton", The Plant List, retrieved 2014-07-24
- Elisens 1985, p. 83
- Paxton, J. (1836), "Select List of Ornamental Creepers", Paxton's Magazine of Botany, and Register of Flowering Plants, 2: 33–37, retrieved 2014-07-13
- Rhodochiton atrosanguineus, Royal Horticultural Society, retrieved 2014-07-27