May 2016

Pandorea pandorana (Wonga Vine)
Text and photographs by Bob Mitchell
     Pandorea belongs to the Bignoniaceae, a large mainly tropical family.  Pandorea has six species found in Australasia. Pandorea pandorana grows in Australia , New Guinea and some South Pacific islands.  This is a woody, evergreen climber, sometimes grown as a house plant for its long season of flowering.
      Our plant was named first as Bignonia pandorana by Henry Charles Andrews (fl. 1794–1830) in his own publication, The Botanist’s Repository 2: t. 86 in 1800.  This publication rivalled Curtis’ Botanical Magazine and illustrated many new and rare plant introductions.  The citation reads: Type: "is a native of Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean , lying in 29 deg. 2 min. south lat. ... Colonel Paterson, now commanding at Port Jackson, New Holland, sent the seeds from Norfolk Island , when he was stationed there, to Messrs. Lee and Kennedy Hammersmith, who first raised it, in the year 1793."   Henry Charles Andrews married the daughter of John Kennedy who assisted Andrews in the descriptions of the plants he illustrated.
     Subsequently it was renamed Pandorea by Cornelius van Steenis (1901–1986) in Bulletin du Jardin Botanique de Buitenzorg Series 3. 10:198 in 1928.
     In Australia Pandorea pandorana grows in the eastern states from the Northern Territory and Queensland south to Tasmania in monsoon and mountain rain forests in a wide altitudinal range from sea level to 1200 m. With the different environments where Pandorea pandorana is found there are inevitably named subspecies to reflect drier areas.  It is also widely cultivated.  According to Mabberley the Australian Aborigines straighten the branches over fire to use a spear shafts.
     Pandorea pandorana is a woody twining vine making strong growth. The shiny, dark-green leaves are pinnate and set off the racemes of flowers. These are tubular with spotting mainly on the inside. Colours vary from white to cream to yellow and to pink and purple. Cultivar names reflect the colours.
     Pandorea pandorana is illustrated in The Botanists Repository and in Everard and Morley and Fairley and Moore (both references below).
     Its close relative, from north-east Australia, Pandorea jasminoides received an Award of Garden Merit in 2012 as a cool glasshouse plant.
Since Pandorea pandorana grows in moist woodland the roots should be kept cool and moist.  An acid soil is favoured. It makes a good potted conservatory plant, pruning will control exuberant growth and encourage flowering for several months through the winter to late spring.  
This plant grows well from seed or semi hardwood cuttings.
Pandorea pandorana is growing on the central support beam in the Temperate House and flowering with the Maddeni rhododendrons.
Grid I7 (click for location map)
Cullen, J. et al.  2000.  The European Garden Flora VI.  Cambridge.
Everard, Barbara and Brian Morley. 1970.  Wild Flowers of the World. Peerage Books.
Fairley, Alan and Phillip Moore. 1989.  Native Plants of the Sydney District .  Kangaroo Press.
Huxley, Anthony et al.  1992.  The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening.  Macmillan.
Mabberley, D.J. 2008.   Mabberley’s Plant-Book. 3rd Edition.  Cambridge.