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Common Morning Glory

Ipomoea purpurea

  • Name also: Purple Morning Glory, Tall Morning-Glory
  • Family: Bindweed Family – Convolvulaceae
  • Growing form: Annual climbing herb.
  • Height: Stem 30–80 cm (12–32 in.) long, twining, clearly hairy.
  • Flower: Corolla widely funnel-shaped, red–violet–blue, sometimes white, 4–6 cm (1.6–2.4 in.) wide, fused, shallowly 5-lobed. Calyx 5-lobed, with small bracts on flower-stalk. Stamens 5. Gynoecium composed of 3 fused carpels, ovary trilocular, style solitary. Flowers axillary in groups of 1–5.
  • Leaves: Alternate, stalked. Blade widely cordate, sometimes 3-lobed, with entire margin, base deeply lobed.
  • Fruit: Capsule.
  • Habitat: Yards, gardens, wasteland, roadsides, harbours, loading areas and dumps. Also an ornamental.
  • Flowering time: July–August.

Larger bindweed (Calystegia sepium) was previously called morning glory, which is an apt name with regards to the way that the plant is so full of like. Botanists have however dedicated the name to another plant, which is a close relative. Real morning glories are extremely rare visitors to Finland as they are unable to stand the northern cold and the long dark winter. Common morning glory is native to Mexico or South America, but it has spread in the tropics far from its original home. It has adapted to a warm climate and does not therefore reach full maturity during the Finnish summer. The most common way of enjoying morning glory’s flowers is in a garden greenhouse, but the species also travels to Finland and the USA too mixed in with soya beans. Other species in the genus also end up in Finland in the same way. It can be difficult to differentiate morning glories from each other, but it can be done through e.g. the hairiness of the plant, and the leaves’ lobes.

Morning glories’ impressive flowers attract pollinators: bees, moths and other insects, and hummingbirds too in the plant’s original habitat. A single flower only lasts a few days, but the plant produces so many new ones that its flowering time lasts the whole summer. The flower changes colour as it ages from reddish to bluish. The genus also includes useful plants such as the sweet potato (I. batatus), which is cultivated in Asia and the Pacific Islands for its large root tubers.

Other species from the same family

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