On the Road with Rhynchosia tomentosa

Rhynchosia tomentosa , the Twining Snoutbean, is a summer-blooming, native wildflower in the bean family, the Fabaceae. In the Falls Lake area it is most often seen along roadsides and in power lines. There is an extensive colony of R. tomentosa located on both sides of the dirt road to Rockcliff Farm at a point where the power lines cross the road. The plants look very much like their relatives, cultivated soybeans (Glycine max) when not blooming. Both species are small to medium sized, upright plants.

The following photos are of soybeans taken in a farm field. The leaves have a soft, fuzzy look.

Glycine max Soybean

Glycine max
Soybean

Glycine max Soybean

Glycine max
Soybean

Rhynchosia  tomentosa is very similar but the leaves have a rough, coarse look to them.

Rhynchosia tomentosa

Rhynchosia tomentosa

Rhynchosia tomentosa

Rhynchosia tomentosa

Cultivated soybeans, which are natives of Southeast Asia, have small, bluish-purple flowers. It is possible to drive past fields of blooming soybeans and not notice the inconspicuous flowers that are tucked down in the lower part of the crown. But in Rhynchosia  tomentosa, the flowers are bright yellow, protrude from the crown, and are held at the highest point of the plant.

The flower clusters can sometimes be quite large and showy.

Rhynchosia tomentosa Flower Cluster

Rhynchosia tomentosa
Flower Cluster

Rhynchosia tomentosa Flowers

Rhynchosia tomentosa
Flowers

R. tomentosa is extremely hardy in hot, dry Piedmont summers and blooms under seemingly adverse conditions. To my knowledge, it has not been adopted for horticultural uses.

Herb Amyx

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2 Responses to On the Road with Rhynchosia tomentosa

  1. That is another one on my List of 500 that I have not photographed yet. Thanks for posting it.

    • It is not one that I have found noted in NC Natural Heritage Inventories. They are very useful, but they are not meant to be an exhaustive list of all plants in an area. I have talked to a few folks with the program about how it is that some plants are routinely listed, and others never mentioned.

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