December 27, 2021


Photographer: Dale Hugo 

Summary Authors: Dale Hugo

My neighbor couldn’t wait to show me this beautiful moonflower as she has waited several seasons for the vines to come to maturity and produce flowers. This was the first one she’d seen — and it was worth the effort and waiting. But keep them under control as they can spread!

The flower is about 7 inches (~18 cm) across and has a unique, 5-pointed star shape. The fragrance is to me reminiscent of gardenias. As their name implies, they bloom at night and fold up at dawn. The moonflower vine, botanically Ipomoea alba, is often mistaken for its cousins, the morning glory and sweet potato plant. Moonflowers contains several compounds poisonous to the human body, including atropine and scopolamine, both of which interfere with the nervous system.

When I was a teenager, I made money ‘walking the beans’ — soybeans. Farmers would hire us to chop out weeds, second growth corn, pumpkin vines, and morning glories. These vines could grow through a row of soybeans for a long way, intertwining with the beans and making their removal very difficult. One had to chop them out with a corn knife — a machete we field workers carried. Leaving the vining plants would invariably jam the bean combine. It was like trying to harvest rope!


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