As the name implies, morning glory flowers, which are funnel-shaped, open in the morning, allowing them to be pollinated by hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other daytime insects and birds, as well as Hawkmoth at dusk for longer blooming variants. The flower typically lasts for a single morning and dies in the afternoon. New flowers bloom each day. The flowers usually start to fade a couple of hours before the petals start showing visible curling. They prefer full sun throughout the day and mesic soils. In cultivation, most are treated as perennial plants in tropical areas and as annual plants in colder climates, but some species tolerate winter cold.
Morning glory is also called asagao (in Japanese, a compound of 朝 asa "morning" and 顔 kao "face"). A rare brownish-coloured variant known as Danjuro is very popular. It was first known in China for its medicinal uses, due to the laxative properties of its seeds. It was introduced to the Japanese in the 9th century, and they were first to cultivate it as an ornament. During the Edo Period, it became a very popular ornamental flower. Aztec priests in Mexico were also known to use the plant's hallucinogenic properties to commune with their gods (see Rivea corymbosa).
Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations used the morning glory species Ipomoea alba to convert the latex from the Castilla elastica tree and also the guayule plant to produce bouncing rubber balls. The sulfur in the morning glory's juice served to vulcanize the rubber, a process pre-dating Charles Goodyear's discovery by at least 3,000 years.
Because of their fast growth, twining habit, attractive flowers, and tolerance for poor, dry soils, some morning glories are excellent vines for creating summer shade on building walls when trellised, thus keeping the building cooler and reducing air conditioning costs.
In some places such as Australian bushland morning glories develop thick roots and tend to grow in dense thickets. They can quickly spread by way of long creeping stems. By crowding out, blanketing and smothering other plants, morning glory has turned into a serious invasive weed problem.
The seeds of many species of morning glory contain d-lysergic acid amide, ergoline alkaloids better known as LSA. Seeds of I. tricolor and I. corymbosa (syn. R. corymbosa) are used as hallucinogens. They are about 5% to 10% as potent as LSD, and produce a similar effect when taken in the hundreds.
- Morning Glories: Naturally Occurring Psychedelics Related to LSD
- Erowid Morning Glory Vault - section from Erowid's vast reference site.
- Morning Glory Information and Images