Combretum coccineum Lam.

Frost tender to half hardy evergreen shrub or semi-climber with entire leaves, to 24cm, and elongated terminal panicles composed of many spikes of scarlet flowers in summer.  To 6m.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘This beautiful climbing shrub [Combretum purpureum] is a native of Madagascar, and was raised from seeds sent from the Mauritius to our friend Robert Barclay, Esq.; and flowered in his stove at Bury Hill in June last, among many other rare plants from that country. […] This plant was first recorded as a Combretum by Lamarrck, in the Encyclopedic Botanique, and a specimen of the plant was given by him to the late Professor Vahl, who changed the specific name to purpureum: but as there seems to be no good reason for this alteration, we should have certainly thought it right to restore the original appellation; only that of Vahl having been adopted in the popular systems of Willdenow and Persoon, the restoration might now tend to occasion confusion.’  [BM t.2102/1819]. 

‘[Combretum purpureum] Much cultivated in the Isle of France on account of the beauty of its flowers.  The drawing was taken from a very perfect specimen furnished by Messrs. Colville, who are in possession of a stock of the species, which they cultivate with success in the hothouse.’  [BR f.429/1820]. 

‘Where space in a warm house can be commanded, [C. purpureum] forms a most useful subject, producing its large feathery-like panicles of bright crimson flowers, which last long in beauty, very freely’.  [Gard. Chron. 1854].  LBC no.563/1821.  Don.

History at Camden Park

Listed in the 1845, 1850 and 1857 catalogues as Combretum purpureum [T.339/1845].  Also listed in the 1850 and 1857 catalogues as Combretum coccineum [T.340/1850] and in the 1850 catalogue as Poivrea coccinea [T.770/1850].  It seems likely that the two Combretum plants differed in some way, probably in flower colour, while Poivrea coccinea was introduced on the assumption that it was a distinct species.


Combretum coccineum Engl. & Diels (1899) = Cacoucia coccinea Aubl.

Published Mar 09, 2009 - 02:41 PM | Last updated Jul 16, 2010 - 02:50 PM

The image shows the lance-shaped leaves and panicles of bright red flowers.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.2102, 1819.

Combretum coccineum Lam. | BM t.2102/1819 | BHL

More details about Combretum coccineum Lam.
Family Combretaceae
Region of origin




  • Combretum purpureum Vahl.
  • Poivrea coccinea DC.
  • Grislea coccinea Britton
Common Name

Caffer butter shrub

Name in the Camden Park Record

Combretum purpureum

Combretum coccineum

Poivrea coccinea 

Confidence level high