Thursday, August 16, 2012
Saltmarsh Morning Glory - Ipomoea sagittata
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.