Monographs Details: Distictis lactiflora (Vahl) DC.
Authority: Britton, Nathaniel L. Flora Borinqueña.
Description:Species Description - Many kinds of climbing woody vines of the Trumpet-creeper Family grow in tropical America, bearing large and attractive flowers; of these, 5 species, in as many genera, are natives of Porto Rico, and several others are frequently planted for ornament. All the wild kinds, and some of the exotic ones, have 2-foliolate, or 3-foliolate leaves which often have the end leaflet curiously modified into a slender tendril, functioning to aid the plant in climbing, strikingly different from the other 2 broad ones; how this interesting modification of structure originated in the remote ancestors of the plants, is, of course, unknown, but the tendril is, presumably, of more use to them than a normal, third leaflet would be.
Distictis (Greek, two rows, referring to the double row of seeds), is a generic name proposed by Martius, published by Meisner in 1840, based on the species here illustrated, which inhabits Cuba, Santo Domingo, Haiti, Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands; two other Cuban species are known, only these three constituting the genus as now understood. Our species grows in thickets, and is most abundant in dry districts at lower elevations. Their flowers are in clusters, borne, for the most part, at the ends of branches; the bell-shaped calyx: has a nearly continuous margin; the tubular-funnelform corolla has a short, cylindric base, and a 5-lobed, slightly irregular, spreading limb, its lobes rounded, or a little notched; there are 4 stamens, in 2 pairs, and a large, thick disk; the ovary is stalkless and contains many ovules in 2 or a few rows. The fruit is a large, oblong, flattened, pointed, leathery capsule, containing many, flat, hyaline-winged seeds, which are released when it ripens and splits into 8 valves, and are widely scattered by the wind,
Distictis lactiflora may reach a length of about 6 meters, and is a slender, smooth vine, or the young shoots are finely hairy. Its leaves are short-stalked, the broad, leathery, pointed or blunt leaflets without teeth, netted-veined, and from 2 to 5 centimeters long; when the tendril is developed, it is about as long as the normal leaflets. The strongly odorous flowers are borne in terminal clusters, on short stalks; the finely hairy calyx is 4 or 5 millimeters long; the white corolla is about 4 centimeters long, with a limb about 5 centimeters broad, and a yellow throat; the stamens and style are shorter than the corolla-tube. The fruit is from 7 to 10 centimeters long, 2 or 3 centimeters wide at the middle, narrowed to both ends; the seeds are broadly winged. Vinda, is another Spanish name for this vine; we have found no English name recorded.
Our illustration was first published in Addisonia, plate 336, June, 1925.
Bignonia lactiflora Vahl, Symbolae Botanicae 3: 80. 1794.
Distictis lactiflora De Candolle, Prodromus 9: 191. 1845.
Bignonia odorata Bello, Apuntes para la Flora de Puerto Rico 63.1881.