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The wonder of leaf mimicy in plants

4 months ago
last modified: 4 months ago

There has been much interest in the discovery by Ernesto Gianoli in Chile that a vine in the Lardizabaceae mimics the shape of the leaves of nearby plants. This wonderous plant is an appealing small vine named Boquila trifoliolata & a search online will deliver many results of discussion & photographs of this phenomenon. It has been my privilege to recently discover that the closely related species Lardizabala biternata does this also. Lardizabala is the type genus for the family which contains several genera a large number of species, some well known in gardens while others are more obscure & a few would be considered 'BIO' (botanical interest only) species. I had been aware for years that Lardizabala produces leaves of considerable variability both on individual vines & on diffrrent vines. I always thought this was genetic variations until a recent trip to Tasmania where l saw a remarkable Lardizabala vine with large leaves with smooth entire margins so diffrrent from my mature vines at home that l plucked a leaf & photographed it to compare when l returned home. When l did so a week later the 'penny dropped'. . .l realized that the leaves on my vines are mimicking the leaves of the large cork oak on which it climbs at my back door! It has become clear that Lardizabala mimics nearby foliage in the same way as Boquila does. I had been trying to import Boquila seeds to Australia for many years & coincidentally had a half ounce going through bio-security inspection at the time l was discovering the similar mimicry in Lardizabala. I was slso lucky to be given a few Boquila cuttings recently which have rooted & are doing well. I would encourage anyone with room for a vigorous evergreen vine which produces unusual & beautiful flowers & unique edible fruit to consider planting a couple of Lardizabala biternata. My vines are to the top of a 50' cork oak tree but they can be trellised on a fence or smaller tree very successfully. I also found remarkable leaves on my vines very closely mimicking the leaves of nearby Lapageria rosea vines. I have many photographs of these examples of this wonder.

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