Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Cutleaf Morning Glory - Merremia dissecta
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.