Argyreia nervosa (Burm. f.) Bojer 1837, commonly called Hawaiian Baby Woodrose, Elephant Climber, Elephant Creeper or Woolly Morning Glory, is a vigorous tropical vine. Even as the name Hawaiian Baby Woodrose points to a Hawaiian origin, Argyreia nervosa is native to India and South East Asia. Nowadays the invasive, tropical climber is widely distributed in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean Islands.

In our home country Thailand the plant is called Bai La Baht, means every leaf 1 Thai Baht and because of its name the creeper is considered as a lucky plant. We got fooled by that name and as we had always money problems my Thai friend suggested to plant a Bai La Baht in our garden to climb at the side of our house. Without any doubt, the Hawaiian Baby Woodrose has beautiful flowers, which gets a size of about 10 cm in diameter. The plant didn`t establish well and was as mingy as our bank account. As the South East Asia Crisis hit Thailand in 1998 we had to close our restaurant and decided to go to work abroad in Germany. As we came back home, half a year later, we couldn`t believe our eyes. The Hawaiian Baby Woodrose has grown rampant and reached the roof already. This is tropical power, I thought, but then I had to find out, that the plant destroyed parts of the railing at the 1. floor and a few shoots been growing inside the roof. Now we had to act, as we didn`t want more damage to the house. We`ve cut the Elephant Creeper short, but maybe that was what the plant wanted and started a massive attack to our house.

Our fight against this tropical monster was reminescent of the fight of Heracles against the Hydra. While he has cut off one head, it has been replaced by two. As we planted this powerful vine, the stems had a diameter of about 1 cm, now it has been more than 30 cm. The shouts crawl in every available space and while they get thicker they burst wooden parts and even bricks and concrete. To kill the monster we had to dig out the complete rootstock. Shoots of the Hawaiian Baby Woodrose can reach lengths up to more then 10 meters. Argyreia nervosa (Bai La Baht) isn`t a lucky plant at all as we didn`t gain wealth, but a damage of maybe 1 Baht per leaf. The seeds of the Elephant Climber contain hallucinogenic properties similar to the Morning Glory Ipomoea tricolor.

Hawaiian Baby Woodrose (Argyreia nervosa)
Flower Photography © Orchids
Image: Hawaiian Baby Woodrose (Argyreia nervosa)

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