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The Convolvulaceae is widely known as the Morning Glory Family.  Estimates range from about 1600 to 2800 species.  Of central importance in Mesoamerica is the Ipomoea genus, of which there are said to be somewhere between 500 and 650 members, mainly vines.  Morning glory is directly translated as Gloria de la Mañana in Central America, but often the flora are dismissed as Campanulas, a general term used for bell-shaped flowers.

Many species of Ipomoea have a natural wide range of flower colors, even before the horticulturists started grinding out hybrids and cultivars.  Furthermore, there is a tendency for leaf shapes to vary along each vine.  This makes it difficult to pin a scientific name on a photo, and the following identifications are not written in stone.


Ipomoea carnea is one of the few woody morning glories.  It is generally known as the Bush Morning Glory, and might be considered a woody vine, a scrambling shrub, or even a liana. Click to see big picture (597x480 pixels; 149 KB)
A closer look at the Ipomoea carnea flower.  The species has now been widely planted and naturalized from a neotropical origin. Click to see big picture (519x480 pixels; 78 KB)
Large, pointed, heart-shaped leaves are a hallmark of the Bush Morning Glory. Click to see big picture (540x480 pixels; 102 KB)
An even larger species is the Tree Morning Glory, Ipomoea arborescens.  Although more widely planted, it is native to Mexico, where it is known as Palo del Muerto, an allusion to death. Click to see big picture (517x480 pixels; 119 KB)
Another species that gets the title of Tree Morning Glory, is Ipomoea pauciflor.  This is native to southern Mexico, where it is known as Cazahuate.
A closer view of the Cazahuate flower, in Oaxaca Province of Mexico.
Although mainly white, some Tree Morning Glory flowers have reddish throats. The large, furry buds are also unusual. Click to see big picture (459x480 pixels; 101 KB)
Ipomoea indica is a major garden item, and can be tweaked to look like almost anything.  The leaves are complex and variable, as is the name.  Some would treat this species as Argyreia mollis.


Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 88 KB)
Ipomoea indica can produce colors and leaves like this, but the combination seems more common with Ipomoea nil.  Known as the Japanese Morning Glory, it has been widely planted and widely escaped, with many variations, hybrids and cultivars. Click to see big picture (640x463 pixels; 152 KB)
And from Hawaii to tropical gardens everywhere, comes a lovely sky-blue form of Ipomoea indica, known as Koali Awa. Click to see big picture (571x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Ipomoea pes-caprae is found more or less world wide on warm beaches. There are many names, including Beach Morning Glory, Sea Bean and Goat's Foot.  An odd one from Latin America is Pudreoreja de Playa. Click to see big picture (480x480 pixels; 86 KB)
Another common name for Ipomoea pes-caprae is Railway Vine, presumably in reference to the long stringers flaunting large leaves, a bit like railway ties. Click to see big picture (631x480 pixels; 155 KB)
u From southern Mexico, this is likely Ipomoea tricolor, one of the blue species here called by the intriguing name of Quebra Platos (breaks dishes).  Now wide-ranging from the Neotropics and Caribbean. Click to see big picture (640x467 pixels; 135 KB)
A cactus seem a suitable backdrop for a species whose seeds are a well known psychedelic.  Ipomoea tricolor has been used in shamanic rites since pre-history.  It has found new friends in the modern generations. Click to see big picture (452x480 pixels; 91 KB)
Ipomoea phyllomega (approx.) climbs trees from Guatemala to Ecuador, and in the West Indies. It is also also written I. phillomega and locally called Patata Morron. Click to see big picture (640x372 pixels; 84 KB)
Another pink species with oddly shaped leaves, unidentified from southeastern Nicaragua.
Ipomoea purpurea is yet another widespread morning glory that has many color variations but simpler leaves than I. indica.  In Mexico they are known as Mantos de Maria. Click to see big picture (566x480 pixels; 91 KB)
Believe it or not, this is a cultivar of Ipomoea purpurea known as 'milky way'.  From a garden in Bogota.  Click to see big picture (551x480 pixels; 97 KB)
Ipomoea imperati, alias I. stolonifera is the Dune Morning Glory, and shares the name Beach Morning Glory with I. pes-caprae.  One may trip over it on beaches and adjacent dunes in many of the warmer parts of the world. Click to see big picture (629x480 pixels; 138 KB)
Known as the Scarlet Morning Glory Ipomoea hederifolia is native to the U.S.A., Central and South America, and has been planted elsewhere in gardens.  Click to see big picture (640x400 pixels; 68 KB)
Ipomoea purga (perhaps the same as I. Dumosa) is known as Jalapa and used in Voodoo and as a purgitive.  It is Mexican, but planted and naturalized more widely.  The singer Muddy Waters referred to it as High John the Conqueror, as the root is considered a good luck charm.   Photo from southwestern Mexico. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 112 KB)
This one was originally mis-identified.  The brown stem hairs indicate that it is only another form of Ipomoea purpurea. Click to see big picture (439x480 pixels; 85 KB)
The root of Ipomoea orizabensis, on the other hand, is used to induce violent diarrhea.  A citizen of Mexico and Guatemala, it is known as Mexican Scammony Root, but in Mexico itself as Jalapa de Orizaba. Click to see big picture (459x480 pixels; 135 KB)
Ipomoea sagittata is sometimes referred to as the Saltmarsh Morning Glory.  The leaves are fairly distinctive and give it the species name.  At home from the southern U.S. to Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (567x480 pixels; 130 KB)
Ipomoea ternifolia var. leptotoma is how this form seems to be known.  It may be found from southern U.S. to southern Mexico, preferring open mountain sites.  Birdsfoot Morning Glory is one name and so is Tripleleaf M.G., although the leaves are often more complex than triple. Click to see big picture (640x454 pixels; 110 KB)
Ipomoea ternifolia has a wide variety of flower types, this one being from the southwest coast of Mexico.  It is best recognized by its unusual leaves.
The elongated heart-shaped leaves mark this as Merremia umbellata, which is now pantropical from the Neotropics. Click to see big picture (640x439 pixels; 93 KB)
There also seems to be a white form of Merremia umbellata, and here we have it near the town of Crucecitas in southern Mexico.  Perhaps someone should have a closer look at this schizophrenic taxon.
A closer look at the flower of Merremia umbellata.  The most common name in English seems to be the derisive Hogvine, while in Latin America Aguinaldo Amarillo is heard. Click to see big picture (640x474 pixels; 84 KB)
This small blue flower in southern Mexico has odd leaves for this family, but it appears to be Jacquemontia pentantha (or pentanthos), found from Mexico and the Caribbean into northern South America.  Known as Aguinaldo Azul. Jacquemontia
From Costa Rica, an unidentified Convolvulaceae with brown hairs. Click to see big picture (640x472 pixels; 106 KB)
And one more from the highlands of Colombia.
This spiny wonder from the mountains of southwestern Mexico appears to be a pink form of Operculina pteripes, which is usually more orange in color.  It ranges from Mexico to Venezuela.