A vigorous evergreen climber 30 ft or more high; young stems slender, ribbed, and clothed like the undersurface of the leaves, the flower-stalks, and the outer bracts of the flower head with a thick, soft, whitish wool. Leaves alternate, pinnate, composed of six, eight, or ten leaflets, the woolly main-stalk lengthening out at the end into a slender, forked tendril several inches long, by which the plant supports itself in climbing. Leaflets oblong-ovate, pointed, rounded or widely tapered at the base, entire, 2⁄3 to 11⁄2 in. long, 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 in. wide, woolly on both surfaces at first, the upper one wearing clean; very shortly stalked. Flower-heads solitary, terminal, pendulous, the lower part cylindrical, 2 to 21⁄2 in. long, enclosed in an involucre of four or five series of erect, oblong-lanceolate bracts. Ray-florets nine or ten, brilliant orange-scarlet, spreading horizontally or slightly recurved, giving the flower-head a diameter of 2 to 21⁄2 in. Bot. Mag., t. 8391.
Native of the Andes of Colombia; introduced in 1859. Near London it has to be given cool greenhouse treatment, but it is hardy in the milder counties. A large plant climbed up the Rectory at Ludgvan, near Penzance. A plant formerly grown in the Temperate House at Kew began to flower in May and continued until October; the plant there was pruned back and its weak shoots thinned out before growth commenced in spring. Unlike some of the mutisias this species is very amenable to cultivation and is really so rampant a grower that this annual pruning soon becomes necessary under glass, and desirable out-of-doors. Propagated by cuttings of half-ripened shoots quite easily.
The plants from Ecuador mentioned in the Seventh Edition belong to a related species – M. microphylla Willd. – which is distinguished by its smaller leaflets with revolute margins.