Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden




Mitraria coccinea

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah - December

Common name botillita, vochi-vochi, Chilean mitre flower
Scientific name Mitraria coccinea Cav.
Family  Gesneriaceae, Tribe: Coronanthereae
Etymology

Genus: Mitraria - relating to the mitre-shape of the flowers.

Species: coccinea: from the Latin, coccineus - deep red, from scarlet to carmine and crimson, in reference to the flower colour.

Distribution South America, Chile, south from 30¢ª S. Mostly from 500 to 2000 m altitude.
Native habitat In humid, temperate, evergreen rainforest with high, constant rainfall. Requires well-drained, humus-rich, acid soil and greater than 20% shade. Will tolerate low temperatures but cannot withstand drought.
Description A climbing shrub or wiry liana and sometimes an epiphyte. Fresh, new, arching branches, produced each spring, carry an abundance of eye-catching flowers.
Flowering/fruiting Mostly late spring and early summer. Some growers have reported a sprinkling of flowers throughout the year.

Location

The Visitor Centre entrance and the South American section of the Gondwana Walk.

 

Described in 1801 by Antonio José Cavanilles from material collected on the island of Chiloé. This is a monotypic genus, containing no other species. Botillita, a popular vernacular name throughout its range, is Spanish for 'little bottle', in reference to the flower shape.

Pollination in natural populations is most probably attributable to the green-backed firecrown hummingbird as these birds are drawn to bright red, orange and yellow flowers though other birds and insects frequent the flowers.

Of Gondwanan origin, the plant family Gesneriaceae comprises more than 150 genera and well known family members include: the African violets, Saintpaulia species; gloxinias, Sinningia hybrids and the Streptocarpus species.

The Coronantheroid group, with nectaries embedded in the ovaries, occurs in South America and the Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand. This group consists of 9 genera. Fieldia australis, a velvety-leaved climber in the local Blue Mountains rainforest has cream-coloured flowers, very similar to those of our featured plant. An example is on the restaurant side of the Visitor Centre entrance.

Sometimes available through cool-climate nurseries.  

Mitraria coccinea