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Friday, 17 October 2014

Ipomoea quamoclit, noxious weed or divinely delicate floral gem?



Close-up/ enlargement of leaf of Ipomoea quamoclit, Hummingbird Vine (Location: Alafua, Samoa)




























Back in 2012 I found a strange if exquisitely beautiful plant growing in a raised garden bed at Malifa (Samoa) which had been newly planted with pink Rain lilies, Zepheranthes rosea. Normally it would have been pulled up with all the other weeds (i.e. anything other than the Zepheranthes that were supposed to be growing there) but this one was lucky because I was there and when I saw the delicate leaves I decided that not only was I going to spare it such a terrible fate but I dug it up and took it with me to Alafua (Samoa) where I was living and transplant it into its own pot.

Close-up/ enlargement of flower of Ipomoea quamoclit, Hummingbird Vine (Location: Alafua, Samoa)

At first I just entranced by the leaves and determined to have it encase the crude bamboo trellis I had constructed for it. But then lo and behold it flowered and the next thing I had were bright starbursts of bright crimson which were completely beyond my expectation given how it had already won me over with its divinely delicate leaves. That it also had stunningly breath-taking if miniature flowers was an unexpected bonus.
Ipomoea quamoclit, Hummingbird Vine (Location: Alafua, Samoa)



Given the striking combination of this vine’s delicate leaf structure and brilliant red flowers, it should come as no surprise that it is a popular plant. According to Dave’s Garden[1], Ipomoea quamoclit is found in also found in pink, white and near white as well as red.
However in some places it is considered a noxious or invasive weed. It appears on the State noxious weed list for 46 states in the USA[2], although at the same time, several other sources hold that it is “not considered too aggressive and does not seem to crowd out native plants”[3]
 
Ipomoea quamoclit, Hummingbird Vine (Location: Alafua, Samoa)
Propagating it is relatively easy. The seeds are small and it self-sows easily (which might account for it being considered invasive). If you want to have seeds you should let the seed heads dry on the plant and collect them once the seedpod is completely dry. You need to do this carefully because sometimes the seed head crumbles as you pick it and the seeds will fall out.
Close up of developing seed-heads of  Ipomoea quamoclit, Hummingbird Vine (Location: Alafua, Samoa)
I suppose you could plant the seeds and transplant the seedlings later. I dug up and transplanted several seedling from several locations where they were not wanted including on large one that had decided to grow in the greenhouse where we were experimenting with assorted Heirloom tomatoes grafted onto Maxifort rootstock. That particular plant was at least 50 cm long and I planted it against the chain-link fence with visions of that dreary looking fence covered in delicate leaves and miniature starburst of crimson. Unfortunately someone decided to do some mowing with the whippersnapper and moved that and a couple other seedlings I had planted just after they had recovered from their transplanting and were showing promise
The chain-link fence on which the Ipomoea quamoclit, Hummingbird Vine was supposed to grow. In the background is one of the greenhouses in which grafted heirloom tomatoes were being grown. The the right is one of the Cananga odorata trees, Ylang Ylang I also dug up from random locations on the property and transplanted to a better/more appropriate location. (Location: Malifa, Samoa)
Some sources indicate that seeds take 4 days to sprout and flowers within 30 days. (Floridata). Others (REF Fine Gardening) recommend that chipping the seeds and soaking for 24 hours. However I found they germinate easily although I suppose that the only way to resolve the necessity or otherwise of chipping versus not chipping would be to run some experiments and then see the germination ratio. If I get the opportunity to I will do that. Unfortunately my Hummingbird vines are in Samoa so unless I can find some here in the United Kingdom I doubt that I will be able to set up such an experiment any time soon.
Ipomoea quamoclit, Hummingbird Vine (Location: Alafua, Samoa)
With regards to the germination time I’m not sure how long the seeds take to sprout because I was not really paying attention to that but they did seem to sprout reasonably easily and fast and then grow relatively quickly which was a delight. I would say that given the number of flowers and seeds produced and the speed with which they grow, flower and produce seeds worrying about fiddly things like chipping the seeds are a bit unnecessary.
The one thing you do need a support structure like a trellis of some sort for the plants to grow on.
An added bonus to the beautiful leaves and flowers is that they also attract butterflies, bees and honeyeaters.

WARNING: the plants are poisonous.

Additional Infomation:

Scientific Name: Ipomoea quamoclit
Common names: Cypress Vine, Star Glory, Hummingbird Vine, Cardinal Climber, India Pink(English);  (French); (German); Violeta de barranca (Spanish);

Taxonomic hierarchy: 

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Viridaeplantae – Green plants
Infrakingdom: Streptophyta – Land plants
Division: Tracheophyta – Vascular plants
Subdivision: Spermatophytina – Spermatophytes (seed plants)
Infradivision: Angiospermae – Angiosperms (flowering plants)
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Superorder: Asteranae 
Order: Solanales 
Family: Convolvulaceae – Morning-glories
Genus: Ipomoea – 
Species: Ipomoea quamoclit

Scientific Name: Cananga odorata
Common names: Ylang Ylang, Ilang-Ilang, Perfume tree, Macassar-oil Plant, Cananga Tree, Fragrant Cananga (English);  Ylang-ylang, Ilang-Ilang (French); Ylang-ylang (German);  flor de canaga, Canaga odorata(Spanish);

Taxonomic hierarchy: 

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Viridaeplantae – Green plants
Infrakingdom: Streptophyta – Land plants
Division: Tracheophyta – Vascular plants
Subdivision: Spermatophytina – Spermatophytes (seed plants)
Infradivision: Angiospermae – Angiosperms (flowering plants)
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Superorder: Magnolianae 
Order: Magnoliales 
Family: Annonaceae –custard apples
Genus: Cananga – 
Species: Cananga odorata
References:

On-line sources:

Intergrated Taxonomic Information System Entry for Ipomoea quamoclit
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Entry for Ipomoea quamoclit
Missouri Botanical Garden Entry for Ipomoeaquamoclit
Floridata.com Entry for Ipomoea quamoclit
Dave’s Garden Entry for Iopmoea quamoclit
Fine Gardening dot com Entry for Iopmoeaquamoclit


Wikipedia Entry for Convolvulaceae
Wikipedia Entry for Solanales
Wikipedia Entry for Morning glory
Wikipedia Entry for Iopmoea

Intergrated Taxonomic Information System Entry for Cananga odorata
Wikipedia Entry for Magnoliales
Wikipedia Entry for Annonaceae
Wikipedia Entry for Cananga
Wikipedia Entry for Cananga odorata





[1] http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/93/
[2] USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Entry for Ipomoea quamoclit at http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=IPQU
[3] Missouri Botanical Garden Entry for Ipomoea quamoclit at http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b912




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