Cardiospermum native in Florida?

Anne Kilmer viceroy at
Thu Jan 17 17:12:23 EST 2002

John Calhoun wrote:

 > I think most botanists believe that Cardiospermum halicacabum is
 > exotic, but some obviously disagree.  In fact, Richard Wunderlin is
 >  one of the members of the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council.
 > During numerous personal communications with him during the course
 > of my research on C. thomasi, he stated his belief that it is an
 > exotic plant in Florida, but is becoming less common, thus it is
 > less of a problem than formerly.  This plant is still available
 > from seed supply houses, but I doubt it's a big seller, except to
 > those who seek unusual plants for their gardens.
Naturally people planting this would get their seeds from as close as 
possible. I would think local butterfly gardeners (and kids) would 
harvest the seed and distribute it through the schools. Now is the time.
That would also be the way to hand out Nicker, which has a most 
seductive seed. You could paint a little blue butterfly on it and sell 
it for a quarter.
Then, when it grew into an enormous vine armed with recurved thorns, 
well named the wait-a-bit plant, wouldn't the gardeners be surprised?
Still, there are many places where this is a highly desirable plant.

  As to whether Balloon Vine is native or exotic, that is usually 
decided -- in a changeable sand spit like Florida -- by whether local 
gardeners like it or not. This is a fairly untidy plant, so nobody 
fought for it, I guess. If we're going to exile pantropical weeds from 
our politically correct Florida gardens, then we'll have to root out 
most of our milkweeds (we grow A. curassavica), Spanish needle, blue 
porterweed and a bunch of other neat plants, as well as our Pride of 
Barbados (C. pulcherrima).
  It is definitely a candidate for bondage and discipline, but you could 
also send it climbing up a politically incorrect tree.
Probably one shouldn't plant it in other people's yards. As for 
persuading children to plant it out, they should have a nice flyer to 
give to homeowners, explaining about the butterfly and the vine, and 
describing how to groom it.
Anne Kilmer
South Florida


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