Morning glory

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Morning glory flower
Morning glory flower, Ipomoea nil
An unopened spiral bud of a morning glory flower, Ipomoea purpurea
"Blue Star" cultivar Ipomoea tricolor photographed in Haverhill, Massachusetts

Morning glory (also written as morning-glory[1]) is the common name for over 1,000 species of flowering plants in the family Convolvulaceae, whose current taxonomy and systematics are in flux. Morning glory species belong to many genera, some of which are:

Habit of the morning glory[edit]

Most morning glory flowers unravel into full bloom in the early morning. The flowers usually start to fade a few hours before the "petals" start showing visible curling. They prefer full solar exposure throughout the day, and mesic soils. Some morning glories, such as Ipomoea muricata, are night-blooming flowers.

In some places, such as Australian bushland, some species of morning glories develop thick roots and tend to grow in dense thickets. They can quickly spread by way of long, creeping stems. By crowding out, blanketing and smothering other plants, morning glory has turned into a serious invasive weed problem.[2]

Cultivation of the morning glory[edit]

In cultivation, most are treated as perennial plants in frost-free areas and as annual plants in colder climates, but some species tolerate winter cold. There are some species which are strictly annual (e.g. Ipomoea nil), producing many seeds, and some perennial species (e.g. I. indica) which are propagated by cuttings. Some moonflowers, which flower at night, are also in the morning glory family.

Because of their fast growth, twining habit, attractive flowers, and tolerance for poor, dry soils, some morning glories are excellent vines for creating summer shade on building walls when trellised, thus keeping the building cooler and reducing heating and cooling costs.

Popular varieties in contemporary western cultivation include 'Sunspots', 'Heavenly Blue', the moonflower, the cypress vine, and the cardinal climber. The cypress vine is a hybrid, with the cardinal climber as one parent.

Many morning glories will self-seed in the garden. They have a hard seed coat which delays germination until late spring. Germination may be improved by pre-soaking in warm water.[citation needed]

History of the morning glory[edit]

Morning glory was first known in China for its medicinal uses, due to the laxative properties of its seeds.

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations used the morning glory species Ipomoea alba to convert the latex from the Castilla elastica tree and also the guayule plant to produce bouncing rubber balls.[3] The sulfur in the morning glory's juice served to vulcanize the rubber, a process predating Charles Goodyear's discovery by at least 3,000 years.[4] Aztec priests in Mexico were also known to use the plant's hallucinogenic properties (see Rivea corymbosa).

Culinary uses of the morning glory[edit]

Stereo image
Right frame 
Morning glory seeds, mixed colors

Ipomoea aquatica, known as water spinach, water morning glory, water convolvulus, ong-choy, kang-kung, or swamp cabbage, is popularly used as a green vegetable, especially in East and Southeast Asian cuisines. In the USA Ipomoea aquatica is a federal noxious weed, and can be illegal to grow, import, possess, or sell without a permit. However, a market exists for the plant's powerful culinary potential.[5] As of 2005, the state of Texas has acknowledged that water spinach is a highly prized vegetable in many cultures, and has allowed water spinach to be grown for personal consumption, in part because it is known to have been grown in Texas for more than 15 years and has not yet escaped cultivation.[6] Because it goes by so many names, it can easily be slipped through import inspections,[citation needed] and it is often available in Asian or specialty produce markets.

The genus Ipomoea also contains the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas). Though the term "morning glory" is not usually extended to Ipomoea batatas, sometimes it may be referred to as a tuberous morning glory in a horticultural context. Some cultivars of Ipomoea batatas are grown for their ornamental value, rather than for the edible tuber.

Chemistry and ethnobotany of the morning glory[edit]

The seeds of many species of morning glory contain ergoline alkaloids such as the psychedelic ergonovine and ergine (LSA). Seeds of Ipomoea tricolor and Turbina corymbosa (syn. R. corymbosa) are used as psychedelics.[7] The seeds of morning glory can produce a similar effect to LSD when taken in large doses, often numbering into the hundreds. Though the chemical LSA is not legal in some countries, the seeds are found in many gardening stores; however, some claim the seeds from commercial sources can sometimes be coated in some kind or form of pesticide or methylmercury (although the latter is illegal in the UK and the US).[8] These pesticide coating could be especially dangerous if one has a history of liver disorders and may also cause neural damage.[9][10] For this reason, Terrence McKenna advocated growing and harvesting your own Heavenly Blue Morning Glory seeds to use for this purpose, and avoid any possibility of pesticide coatings.[11]



  1. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Prehistoric Polymers: Rubber Processing in Ancient Mesoamerica".
  4. ^ "Rubber processed in ancient Mesoamerica, MIT researchers find – MIT News Office".
  5. ^ USDA weed factsheet
  6. ^ "Texas Register - The Portal to Texas History". The Portal to Texas History.
  7. ^ Vargas, Theresa (2006-05-03). "A '60s Buzz Recycled". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-13.
  8. ^ Johnnson, Timothy (1999). CRC Ethnobotany Desk Reference. CRC Press. p. 431. ISBN 0-8493-1187-X.
  9. ^ Shafer, Jack. "The Washington Post takes another bad drug trip". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2014-12-12.
  10. ^ "DrugScope". Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  11. ^ Terrence McKenna (4 October 1997). Terence McKenna: Heavenly Blue Morning Glory (Video). Retrieved 5 September 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Everitt, J.H.; Lonard, R.L.; Little, C.R. (2007). Weeds in South Texas and Northern Mexico. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press. ISBN 978-0-89672-614-7.
  • Furst, Peter (1990). Flesh of the Gods. ISBN 978-0-88133-477-7.
  • Schultes, Richard Evans (1976). Hallucinogenic Plants. Elmer W. Smith, illustrator. New York: Golden Press. ISBN 0-307-24362-1.

External links[edit]