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Mariposa lets dry garden possibilities take wing

Mariposa, also known as red wings, offers a lot of color in the dry garden. Its showy yellow flowers become red-winged ornamental fruit.
Mariposa, also known as red wings, offers a lot of color in the dry garden. Its showy yellow flowers become red-winged ornamental fruit.

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Life After Lawn” series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and ideal for drought-tolerant landscapes.

Mariposa

Heteropteris angustifolia

Size: Twining shrub; either sprawls on ground or grows as vine, up to 10 feet tall.

Bloom season: From late spring through fall, showy yellow clusters of small flowers followed by highly ornamental red-winged fruit.

Exposure: Full sun or partial shade.

Pruning needs: Prune to shape and direct growth.

Water needs: Medium to low; once established, water deeply every other week.

Snapshot: Also known as red wings or vining maple, this unusual and little-seen evergreen can be trained as twining (and sprawling) shrub or upright as a climbing vine with shiny lance-shaped leaves. A native of South America, mariposa bears golden clusters of small flowers from late spring to almost frost. Those flowers turn into pink- to crimson-colored ornamental fruit with wings similar to that of a maple; that’s how it got its “red wings” nickname. Tough and heat tolerant, mariposa can be trained up a fence or trellis, but needs support.

For more on “Life After Lawn,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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