Is this Plant a Cypress Vine or a Cardinal Climber?

The pink blooms of the Star of Texas (Cypress) vine are abundant in summer.

“Star of Texas” (Cypress Vine) Aug.10, 2013

Cypress vines have star-shaped flowers and lacy green foliage. The flowers are about the size of a US dime, or roughly 1.3 cm across (about 1/2 inch). This care-free vine re-seeds itself and returns each year. Each flower lasts a day and each day the number of flowers increases until the first frost stops growth. This vine is ideal for those locations in the garden where summer color is desired—it quickly takes over an area with it’s green lacy foliage and numerous star-shaped flowers, then vanishes completely in winter (easy clean up and no pruning!)

Common names for Cypress vine are; “Star of Texas” or “Texas Star” — so named to represent the single star on the Texas flag. The pink-flowering vine—a pass-along gift from an in-law–is an icon in my garden.

A friend recently shared some seeds to a red-flowering cypress vine. The seeds were planted, sprouted, and produced small plants with large, thick palmate-shaped leaves. These seedlings did not have the familiar lacy foliage and they grew more slowly than the Cypress vine.

Flowers of Cardinal Climber, Sept 2014

Cardinal Climber, Sept 2014

I was skeptical about these new seedlings being red Cypress Vine, but allowed them to grow any way — just to find out what they were.

It soon became evident these plants were vines and then the pentagon-shaped flowers appeared with a hint of a star in the center of the flower—the tips of each arm of the star formed the points of the pentagon-shape (photo to the right and at the bottom of this post).

Since Cypress vine is described by Thomas Jefferson–in the gardens at Monticello, I visited the website. Here’s what is written at the Monticello gardens website (

“The true cypress vine is often confused with a related species, cardinal climber (Ipomoea coccinea), which does not have the distinctive lacy foliage.”

A quick Google of “Cardinal Climber” produced a number of photos of this plant.

An interesting thing happened in early September, I found a deep red (almost maroon) version of Ipomea quamoclit growing with my passion vine. (The large leaves are passion vine; the lacy foliage of the Cypress Vine is seen woven throughout, from bottom right to center top if the photo at left) This Cypress Vine is a volunteer plant—one that I contemplated pulling up to prevent it from overshadowing the passion vine.

My gardens have both Cypress Vine and Cardinal Climber … with two different colors of flowers for the Cypress Vine described by Thomas Jefferson!

(Now if I could just find a white flowering cypress vine to complete my collection!)





One thought on “Is this Plant a Cypress Vine or a Cardinal Climber?

  1. Pingback: How to Collect Seeds from Texas Star and Cardinal Climber | The Art & Science of Gardening

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