THE ALIEN MORNING GLORY

I photographed these very pretty Morning Glory flowers growing along the fence bordering the Botanical Garden six years ago. I particularly enjoyed the mix of blue and purple and seriously wondered if I should collect seeds to plant in my garden. There is no denying that these flowers are eye-catching. I was not alone thinking so, for during the 1950s plants such as these were actually promoted for covering walls and fences – particularly as it can also grow well in poor soil.

Alas, I found out that they are regarded as unwelcome alien invasive plants here in the Eastern Cape as well as in other parts of the country. Scientifically known as Ipomoea indica, this pretty creeper hails from the West Indies and is problematic because it tends to smother other vegetation. It spreads by seed and does not appear to have any natural predators – thus continuing its creeping, suffocating march through areas where the growing conditions are favourable. These plants are quick to invade riverbanks, woodland, and wasteland areas.

Local gardeners need not go without though for there are a number of indigenous morning glories to choose from. Among them is the Ipomoea cairica, or Coast Morning Glory.

Picture: [pza.sanbi.org]

It is indigenous throughout tropical Africa, as well as in the eastern Mediterranean and occurs naturally in the Eastern Cape. This plant was first collected in Cairo, hence the species name cairica.

Another which is endemic to southern Africa, is the Ipomoea oenotheroides, also known as the Christmas Flower. A positive aspect of this plant is that it grows well in the arid parts of the summer-rainfall region.

Picture: [pza.sanbi.org]

23 thoughts on “THE ALIEN MORNING GLORY

  1. I don’t know which species I grew long ago, and watched with delight as they climbed up the railing of steps up to our bedroom addition. I didn’t know there was more than one climbing type. But I had to remove my beautiful plant because it wrecked the paint on the wooden handrail in no time.

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  2. Both the leaf and flower of I. cairica are quite attractive. ‘Heavenly Blue’ are popular here, but because of our harsh winters, do not self-sow. However, there are several species whose seed will overwinter, but so far, I’ve never had trouble with curbing their ambitious nature.

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    • I think conditions have to be ‘just right’ for them to get out of hand. They’re a bit harsh here for them even to grow in my garden at the moment.

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  3. Yes I have also always heard that they are a ‘weed’. But goodness they do have a glorious show of trumpet flowers when one is desperate for a bit of colour in a garden 😊

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  4. They had a fine old time on our property for a while but eventually they had to go.
    I’ve had enough of most creeping plants these days as they require a fair amount of maintenance to keep in check.
    We had a wisteria for a long while, but it eventually got through a gap by the facia boards and into the roof! The roots were another thing!

    We have a Jasmin plant by the shed which I love and is about the only climber I’ll tolerate and look after.

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    • I hear you loud and clear about creeping plants getting into one’s roof. We have jasmine in our garden too, which has recently come into bloom. The warmer evenings are now infused with their delicious scent.

      Liked by 1 person

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