Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cutleaf Morning Glory - Merremia dissecta

There seems to be some debate among plant taxonomists as to whether cutleaf morning glory (Merremia dissecta) or Noyau vine is native to Florida or not.  Most of my references list it as a native species, but Dr.'s Wunderlin and Hansen disagree and list it as a non-native on the website sponsored by the Institute of Systematic Botany (ISB) at the University of South Florida.  Regardless of its status, it is found in upland sites nearly statewide in Florida, and across the Deep South from Georgia to Texas.  It also occurs in Puerto Rico and Cuba.
It is a perennial vine that dies back to the ground in winter. Like most morning glories, it quickly reestablishes itself in spring and spreads in all directions quite aggressively using its tendrils to climb and clamber over everything within 6 feet or more from the main stem.  For this reason, it is often considered a nuisance despite its very attractive flowers.
Flowering occurs throughout much of the summer and fall.  Like all morning glories, each bloom opens for only one morning before fading. The flowers are a bright white with a rose-red throat and about 1 inch across.  They attract a wide assortment of pollinators.  The pollinated flowers form large brown seed capsules with the woody sepals still attached like wings behind them.  This gives them the appearance of flowers long after the real ones have faded.
The foliage of cutleaf morning glory is also very distinctive.  They are palmately lobed - like the fingers on a hand, and each lobe is lobed too.  As the Latin name indicates, the leave margins are dissected.
This species has never been offered for sale, to my knowledge, by any nursery affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries and it is unlikely to be in the future.  Because of its aggressive nature, cutleaf morning glory is difficult to contain in any kind of managed landscape. If you want to attempt it, make sure to keep it on a sturdy chain link fence or similar structure, plant it in a sunny location and make sure it has good drainage. Seed from mature seed capsules is relatively easy to germinate.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Saltmarsh Morning Glory - Ipomoea sagittata

Saltmarsh morning glory (Ipomoea sagittata) is one of many showy native morning glories in Florida.  It is found nearly statewide, but concentrated in the coastal counties and absent from some of the interior ones. This is a member of the flora of the Southeast Coastal Plain and occurs in the lower tier of states from Texas to North Carolina.  Throughout this range, it is most abundant near coastal areas.
Saltmarsh morning glory is especially salt tolerant.  The plants photographed above were prospering at the edge of a saltern community with very high salt concentrations.  Although it is well suited to life in a salt marsh, this species occurs in inland habitats if the soils are wet.
Saltmarsh morning glory is a perennial that dies back to the ground in the winter if temperatures get below freezing. In spring, it rapidly spreads in all directions, its typical vining tendrils latching onto all of the adjacent vegetation and climbing upwards.  Each of its many stems may reach 6 feet or more in length.  The leaves are quite distinctive.  As the Latin name implies, they are shaped like an arrowhead.
Flowering can occur in nearly any month if temperatures remain above freezing.  Each bloom is deep pink in color with a slightly deeper pink throat - and about 3 inches across.  They may occur singly or in small clusters of 2-3. As with all members of this genus, flowers open in the morning and typically wilt by mid-day.  They attract a wide assortment of pollinators, but especially bees. Pollinated flowers form rounded seed capsules (like the ones pictured in the middle photograph) which eventually ripen to black or dark brown before splitting open.
Though very showy, I am not aware of anyone propagating this species commercially.  It is a tough species to contain in a landscape and can eventually become a nuisance.  It is easy to grow from seed, however.  Seed might be found in nearly any month. If you wish to try it, make sure you give it a fence or trellis to climb on, give it wet soil, and make sure you keep new seedlings from spreading to areas where it would not be welcome.