Campsis radicans, the trumpet vine,[4] yellow trumpet vine,[5] or trumpet creeper[4] (also known in North America as cow itch vine[6] or hummingbird vine[7]), is a species of flowering plant in the trumpet vine family Bignoniaceae, native to eastern North America, and naturalized elsewhere. Growing to 10 metres (33 feet), it is a vigorous, deciduous woody vine, notable for its showy trumpet-shaped flowers. It inhabits woodlands and riverbanks, and is also a popular garden plant.

Trumpet vine

Secure  (NatureServe)[1]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Bignoniaceae
Genus: Campsis
C. radicans
Binomial name
Campsis radicans
(L.) Bureau (1864)[2]
  • Bignonia radicans L. (1753)
  • Tecoma radicans (L.) Juss.
  • Gelseminum radicans (L.) Kuntze
  • Bignonia florida Salisb.
  • Bignonia coccinea Steud.
  • Campsis curtisii Seem.



C. radicans is a vine that climbs on trees, other plants, or structures or trails along the ground and can grow to a length of up to 10 metres (33 feet). From the main vine, rigid or woody arching vines up to 2 metres (7 feet) long extend outward. The plant can form a dense groundcover or an aggressive liana covering plants or buildings. The leaves are opposite and odd-pinnately compound, meaning there is an odd number of leaflets, with one terminal leaflet.

Leaves are up to 18 centimetres (7 inches) long with 7 to 13 leaflets that are each about 8 centimetres (3 inches) long and 4 centimetres (1.5 inches) wide. The leaflets are emerald green when new, maturing into a shiny dark green. They are ovate to broadly lanceolate and the edges are coarsely serrate.[8]

Typical leaf
Seed pod and leaves of Campsis radicans



The flowers come in terminal cymes of 2-8. Each flower is up to 9 centimetres (3.5 inches) long and trumpet shaped. They are orange to reddish orange in color with a yellowish throat and 5 shallow lobes bending backward. They generally appear after several months of warm weather. The flowers have no floral scent. After flowering, a long seed capsule about 15 centimetres (6 inches) long appears, eventually splitting in two to disperse its seeds. [9]

Pollen under microscope



The flamboyant flowering of Campsis radicans made it obvious to even the least botanically-minded of the first English colonists in Virginia. Consequently, the plant quickly made its way to England early in the 17th century.

Its botanical parentage, as a hardy member of a mostly subtropical group, made its naming problematic: according to John Parkinson, the Virginia settlers were at first calling it a jasmine or a honeysuckle, and then a bellflower; he classed it in the genus Apocynum (dogbane). Joseph Pitton de Tournefort erected a catch-all genus Bignonia in 1700, from which it has since been extricated.[10]



The Latin specific epithet radicans means "with stems that take root".[11] The plant is commonly known as cow-itch vine because skin redness and itching is experienced by some people after coming in contact with the leaves.[12]



Campsis radicans is native to the eastern United States and extreme southern Ontario in Canada. It is naturalized in parts of the western United States as well as in Ontario and southern Quebec, parts of Europe, and scattered locations in Latin America.[3][13]



The flowers bloom in the summer for about 2 months and are very attractive to ruby-throated hummingbirds,[14] and many types of birds like to nest in the dense foliage. Moths, bees, flies, and ants also feed on the nectar of the flowers.[9] The flowers are followed by large seed pods. As these mature, they dry and split. Hundreds of thin, brown, paper-like seeds are released. These are easily grown when stratified. Larvae of Clydonopteron sacculana (the trumpet vine moth) feed on the seed pods.[15]



The trumpet vine grows vigorously. In warm weather, it puts out aerial rootlets that grab onto every available surface, and eventually expand into heavy woody stems several centimeters in diameter. It grows well on arbors, fences, telephone poles, and trees, although it may dismember them in the process. Ruthless pruning is recommended.[8] Outside of its native range this species has the potential to be invasive, even as far north as New England.[16] The trumpet vine thrives in many places in southern Canada as well.

Away from summer heat, C. radicans is less profuse of flower. A larger-flowered hybrid 'Mme Galen' was introduced about 1889 by the Tagliabue nurserymen of Lainate near Milan.[10]

The form C. radicans f. flava has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[5]

A deeper red form "Flamenco" is available.



The plant can cause contact dermatitis.[17]


  1. ^ "NatureServe Explorer 2.0".
  2. ^ Campsis radicans (L.) Bureau. Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  3. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  4. ^ a b "Campsis radicans". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b "RHS Plant Selector - Campsis radicans f. flava". Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  6. ^ John Tveten; Gloria Tveten (5 July 2010). Wildflowers of Houston and Southeast Texas. University of Texas Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-292-78687-5.
  7. ^ Dale Mayer (12 November 2010). The Complete Guide to Companion Planting: Everything You Need to Know to Make Your Garden Successful. Atlantic Publishing Company. p. 246. ISBN 978-1-60138-345-7.
  8. ^ a b "Know Your Natives – Trumpet Vine". Arkansas Native Plant Society. 17 September 2022.
  9. ^ a b "Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans)".
  10. ^ a b Alice M. Coats, Garden Shrubs and Their Histories (1964) 1992, s.v. "Campsis".
  11. ^ Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. p. 224. ISBN 9781845337315.
  12. ^ "Campsis radicans - Plant Finder". Retrieved 2021-12-22.
  13. ^ Biota of North America Program, 2013 county distribution map
  14. ^ "Campsis radicans (Cow-itch, Cow Vine, Devil's Shoestring, Foxglove Vine, Hellvine, Trumpet Creeper, Trumpet Vine) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox". Retrieved 2021-12-22.
  15. ^ Robinson, Gaden S.; Ackery, Phillip R.; Kitching, Ian; Beccaloni, George W.; Hernández, Luis M. (2023). "HOSTS - The Hostplants and Caterpillars Database at the Natural History Museum". doi:10.5519/havt50xw.
  16. ^ "Campsis radicans (trumpet-creeper): Go Botany".
  17. ^ "USDA Plants Database".