The name derives from the Greek words 'keros', a wax candle and 'pegnynai', assemble or unite; for the chandelier like flower structures of some of the species. Ceropegia contains a diverse group of 160 named species distributed over a wide range including the
Islands, Africa, Madagascar, ,
Arabia, India Ceylon,
and Phillipines, New Guinea Australia.
About 40 species from India
occur mostly in the peninsula, with the Sahyadri or northern Western
Ghats alone home to 20 species of this specialised plant group,
most of them endemic to the area. Ceropegias are uncommon small herbs that
appear only during the monsoon months, blooming for just a couple of weeks, in
very remote habitats. Since their habitats become even more inaccessible in the
rains, sightings of these flowers are rare and adventure for shooting. I
clicked this particular flower in Tungareshwar Sanctuary on a rock cliff around
75 feet high.
Flowers occur either singly or in clusters and have a tubular corolla 2 or more times as long as its diameter and longer than the 5 lobes. The base of the tube is usually inflated and the tube may have downwardly orientated hairs on the inside and hairs on the outside and at the edges of the lobes. Colors include reds, purples, yellows, greens and mixtures of these. The hairs until the flower wilts may trap flies entering the corolla. The tips of the lobes are fused together to form a cage-like flower structure in many species, but are open in others. The five lateral entrance windows on the lantern are decorated with frills of vibrating colored hair. The inside of the pitcher has dark colored bands, which seem to guide insects to the nectary. The purpose of evolving this complex structure of flower is to ensure pollination without loosing much pollen and nectar.
If an insect is trapped in the pitchers and has brought in pollens from another flower, which is picked up by the sticky stigma as the insect was attracted towards the sweet nectar. Once pollination has occurred, the stalk of the flower bends and the pollinated flowers turns limp, bending over and releasing the trapped insect. Once the critical process of pollination is completed successfully, fruiting begins.
|Ceropegia hirsuta - TOP view|
|Ceropegia media - TOP view|
|Ceropegia huberi - TOP view|
|Ceropegia vincaefolia - TOP view|