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Book cover - Common Weeds of New ZealandAn Illustrated Guide to
Common Weeds
of New Zealand


Cobaea scandens
cathedral bells


Cobaea scandens - cathedral bells (Photo Colin Ogle)Reproduced from
Common Weeds of New Zealand
by Ian Popay, Paul Champion & Trevor James
ISBN 0 473 09760 5
by kind permission of the
New Zealand Plant Protection Society

Publication or other use of images or descriptive text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is obtained from the authors and publisher.
Appropriate acknowledgement of the publication Common Weeds of New Zealand must always be given.

Available from Touchwood Books

Fast-growing, evergreen perennial climber with tendrils on its leaves, growing up to 2-3 m tall. Large, bell-shaped purple flowers in summer. Leaflets in three pairs, dark green, with tendrils.

  • Flowers Light to deep purple, green at first, bell-shaped 6-7 cm long. Flowers Dec-May.
  • Fruit Capsule 5.5-8.5 cm long, with broad seeds 10-15 mm long including the wing.
  • Leaves Leaflets usually in three pairs (including the basal pair), with tendrils. Each leaflet oval, 4-12 cm long by 2-5 cm wide, dark green above, whitish underneath, with a brown stalk. Mid-rib with twining tendrils.
  • Stems Angled.


Trees, shrubs, hedges and unkempt places.


Scattered, in frost-free localities in the Auckland region, Waikato and Wellington Province in NI. At Karamea (Westland) in SI. Originally from Central and South America.


Listed on the National Pest Plant Accord (see Introduction for details).

Derivation of botanical name

Cobaea after Fr. Bernado Coba, 18th cent. Spanish Jesuit missionary and botanist; scandens (Lat.) = climbing.

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Last updated: July 13, 2014