Matelea sp. is an unusual and beautiful deciduous plant native to South America, Central America, Mexico. This vine or creeper is best grown in full sun or semi-shade and requires moderate water. During the growing season, water regularly. Once it has gone into dormancy in late winter or early spring, however, it will require very little water and can even tolerate periods of dryness.
The plant has a distinct look and is easily recognizable by its unusual coloration, with the caudex usually having slight pink/lavender tones. The rounded shape of the caudex can grow to around 8 inches, and the vines can reach 6-10 ft in length. The flowers are 1 inch in diameter and are brown and, like other asclepiads that use flies as pollinators, they have a distinctive carrion-like odor.
Matelea sp. is an easy-growing plant and can tolerate a wide range of soils and climates, although it is best in USDA Zone 9-11. In colder regions, it should be grown in a container and taken indoors when temperatures drop below freezing. When grown in containers, it is important to keep soil evenly moist throughout the growing season and just barely damp during dormancy.