Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

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

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