Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Ipomoea plebeia R.Br.

Slender Vine
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Flower. © G. Sankowsky
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Fruit. © G. Sankowsky
Habit and leaves. © G. Sankowsky
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Brown, R. (1810) Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae : 484. Type: [given by B.Verdcourt, Fl. Trop. E. Africa (2 Apr. 1963) 94 as Australia, Bay of Inlets, Banks & Solander (BM, holo!)].

Common name

Bell Vine; Vine, Bell; Vellvine


A slender vine not exceeding a stem diameter of 2 cm.


Leaf blades about 3-7.5 x 2.5-5 cm, upper and lower surfaces clothed in pale (glandular or broad-based) hairs. Petioles about 1-5.5 cm long. Stems, petioles and the underside of the leaf blades sparsely clothed in long, broad-based, pale-coloured hairs. Lateral veins about 6 or 7 on each side of the midrib.


Flowers about 10-12 mm diam. Sepals about 6-8 mm long, tuberculate, densely clothed in broad-based hairs, sepal apices acute. Corolla tube funnel-shaped, about 5-10 mm long. Stamens not exceeding the corolla tube. Staminal filaments about 1.3-1.9 mm long, attached just above the base of the corolla tube, base of the filaments surrounded by small multicellular hairs. Anthers sagittate. Disk short, 5-lobed, surrounding the base of the ovary. Style + ovary about 4-6 mm long. Ovary glabrous. Stigma bilobed, granular to papillose, purplish-pink. Ovules 2 per locule.


Fruits globular, glabrous, about 7-8 x 5-7 mm. Sepals hairy, persistent at the base. Seeds up to 4 per fruit. Seeds quadrant-shaped, about 4-4.5 mm long. Testa clothed in hairs. Endosperm intrusions visible between the folds in the gland-dotted cotyledons. Cotyledons deeply bilobed, folded and crumpled in a complex fashion. Radicle about 2.5-4 mm long.


Cotyledons bilobed, about 2.5-4 x 2-3.5 cm, base cordate-hastate, petioles about 1-2 cm long, clothed in hairs. Midrib branched, not extending to the apex, i.e. the notch of the cotyledon. First leaves cordate, sparsely hairy on the upper surface, clothed in bristly hairs on the lower surface particularly on the veins. At the tenth leaf stage: stems twining, leaf blade cordate, apex shortly acuminate and mucronate, base cordate. Small 'oil dots' visible with a lens. Venation palmate. Midrib raised on the upper surface. Both the upper and lower leaf blade surfaces sparsely clothed in translucent, broad-based, bristle-like hairs. Petiole grooved on the upper surface. Margins of the groove densely clothed in translucent, broad-based, bristle-like hairs. Stem clothed in similar hairs. Seed germination time 10 to 136 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as north-eastern New South Wales. Altitudinal range in northern Australia from near sea level to 800 m. Usually grows in open forest but also in vine thicket and monsoon forest. Also occurs in Malesia.

Convolvulus plebeius (R.Br.) Spreng., Systema Vegetabilium 1 : 604(1824). Ipomoea plebeia R.Br. subsp. plebeia, Flora of Tropical East Africa : 94(1963).
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