Morning glories are annual to perennial climbers, native to the New World tropics and widely cultivated and naturalized elsewhere. They are used to tropical summers and daylight periods not exceeding 12 hours. Flowering may be impaired if the plants are exposed to sunlight for more than 12 hours, as with summers of the Northern hemisphere. Hence the flowering time of some species, such as Ipomoea alba, may be pushed back to autumn. Morning Glory plants do not withstand freezing. Overwinter indoors or grow as an annual in colder climates.
All parts of the plant contain ergoline alkaloids, especially ergometrine and ergine (LSA), which are chemically similar to LSD. Either of these or other, yet unidentified compounds, cause hallucinations similar to consuming LSD. Negative side effects are nausea, vomiting and the inability to separate dream from reality.
Blue Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor)
Flowers commonly blue with a white to golden yellow centre, 4-9 cm large. Several cultivars exist, with flower colors from blue to lilac or white with a blue star across the flower. The cultivars go by names such as Heavenly Blue, Blue Star, Clark’s Heavenly Blue, Flying Saucers, Pearly Gates, and Wedding Bells.
The black seeds of Ipomoea tricolor have been used by Mexican indigenous cultures as an entheogen; they were known to the Aztecs as tlitliltzin, Nahuatl for “black”. In South America, the seeds are also known as badoh negro. The seeds may also have been used as sacraments by the Zapotecs, sometimes in conjunction with Ololiuqui. Aztecs used them not only in shamanistic and divination rituals, but also as a poison, to give the victim a “horror trip”.
Purple Morning Glory (Ipomoea purpurea)
The flowers are predominantly blue to purple, white or pink, 3–6 cm large. Common cultivars include I. purpurea ‘Crimson Rambler’ (red-violet blossoms with white throats); ‘Grandpa Ott’s,’ ‘Kniola’s Black Knight,’ and ‘Star of Yelta’ (blossoms in varying shades of deep purple with white or pale pink throats); and ‘Milky Way’ (white blossoms with mauve accents). The triangular seeds have some history of use as a psychedelic. The plant has been cultivated as an ornamental plant since at least 1629.
Also called common and tall morning glory.
Moon Flower (Ipomoea alba)
Bright white flowers, 8-15 cm large. Cultivated for ornamental purposes. Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations used Ipomoea alba to convert the latex from the Castilla elastica tree and the guayule plant to produce bouncing rubber balls. The sulfur in this morning glory served to vulcanize the rubber, a process predating Charles Goodyear’s discovery by at least 3,000 years. As early as 1600 BCE, the Olmecs produced the balls used in the Mesoamerican ballgame. Fittingly, in nature Ipomoea alba is found twining around the Panama rubber tree (Nahuatl: olicuáhuitl).
Cultivation: Prime seeds in tepid water for 24 hours. The seeds of some Ipomoea species have very hard husks. Nick the husk with a file or carefully cut the edge and then soak overnight. Plant ca. 1 cm deep, into seeding compost and moisten thoroughly. Place in a humidity tent or under transparent plastic foil to increase temperature and moistness. Give them a warm and well-lit spot to germinate.
- Germination temperature: 18-20°C
- Germination time: 1-2 weeks
Best is to sow the seeds in a container, and at least 15 cm apart. Single Ipomoea plants can grow 2-4 m tall. They easily take over, if planted in the flower bed. The plants need climbing support! Make sure to water frequently, up to 2 times daily during the hot season.