Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Rhodochiton atrosanguineum (Zucc.) Rothm.

Frost tender, slender-stemmed climber with long, pendant stalks bearing solitary, tubular, black to reddish-purple flowers with pink or mauve calyces from summer to autumn.  To 3m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

I can find no specific reference in the literature to Lophospermum volubile but this plant is almost certainly Rhodochiton atrosanguineum (Zucc.) Rothm.  Comments by John Claudius Loudon in The Gardeners Magazine and Register of Rural and Domestic Improvement offer an explanation for the name.  ‘Plants of this showy-flowered climbing species were raised, in 1828, in the Munich Garden, from seeds brought from Mexico by Baron Karwinski. M. Zuccarini sent, in 1829, the species to several gardens under the name Rhodochlton volubile, which he had applied to it.  His subsequent examination convinced him that the species is one of the genus Lophospermum.  The characteristics of this genus were first described, by Mr. D. Don, in the Linnaan Transactions; where he has also described two species of it.  M. Zuccarini has, in the Abhandlungen der Mathe- matisck-Physikalischen Classe der Koniglich Baycrischen Akademie WissenschafteH (Munich), 1832, presented an abstract of these characteristics; and described, in p.306, those of the plant he had formerly called Rhodochiton volubile, and has there applied to it the name Lophospermum atrosanguineum.  This fact was not present to Mr. D. Don's mind when he named the same species Lophospermum Rhodochiton in Sweet's British Flower Garden, Aug. 1834, t.250; and Mr. D. Don has kindly communicated these particulars to us, that the priorly published name, Lophospermum atrosanguineum Zuccarini, may be made known as the legitimate one, to the abrogation of the name L. Rhodochiton D. DonIn the Abhandlungen, tab.13, a plate of excellent figures, uncoloured, of the species is given: they exhibit a flowering specimen, and several parts of the flower and fruit.  For information on the habits of the species, see Gard. Mag., x. 460.’  [Gardeners Magazine vol.11, p.75/1835].

 ‘This singularly pretty climber [Rhodochiton volubile] is a native of Mexico, whence it was introduced into Germany, and from thence found its way into the collections of this country; we believe first into that of Mrs. Marryatt of Wimbledon in whose rich garden, we saw a beautiful plant, trained to a trellis, flowering in profusion.’  [MB p.27/1835].  Lophospermum atrosanguineum was introduced to Britain in 1833.  [JD]. ‘This plant, a native of Mexico, was received at the Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, from Mr. Low of Clapton, who had it from Berlin, and it has flowered very freely with us in the open border during September, and will no doubt continue to dose during October.  It seems perfectly hardy, and is highly ornamental.  I regret that I have not seen the original observations on the Genus by Zuccarini; but I cannot agree with Mr. Don in uniting it with Lophospermum though undoubtedly these Genera are very nearly allied.’  [BM t.3367/1834].

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1845, 1850 and 1857 catalogues [H.133/1845].  Rhododchiton volubile was requested of Loddiges’ Nursery on 6th January 1845 [MP A2933-2, p.28] and of Kew Gardens on 1st February, 1849 [MP A2933-1, p.165].  The plant already in the gardens under the name Lophospermum volubile was probably unrecognised by Macarthur under the name Rhododchiton volubile.


Published Sep 24, 2009 - 12:33 PM | Last updated Jul 31, 2010 - 03:40 PM

Shown is a climber with pendant stalks bearing tubular, reddish-purple flowers. Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.3367, 1834.

Rhodochiton atrosanguineum (Zucc.) Rothm. | BM t.3367/1834 | BHL

Family Scrophulariaceae
Region of origin


  • Rhodochiton volubile Zucc.
  • Lophospermum atrosanguineum Zucc.
  • Lophospermum rhodochiton D.Don
Common Name

Purple bellerine, Purple bells

Name in the Camden Park Record

Lophospermum volubile 

Confidence level