One of the most interesting annuals I planted in the garden this year was the wooly morning glory, Argyreia nervosa. Also called Hawaiian woodrose and elephant creeper this plant is native to India and while perennial there and in any similar tropical locale, it is very frost sensitive. My first frost occurred on October 13th of this year. This vine takes quite a while to get growing.
It loves a warm, humid summer.It was the end of July before it reached for the rooster on the tutuer and then, in the heat of August, it grew inches every day. The leaves are large, the size of a ping pong paddle and the new growth is softly grey and textured. The sinuous vine searches for a structure to envelop and wraps itself with thick purpose climbing higher each day. Argyreia nervosa is in the Convolvulaceae family which is the same as the morning glory, sweet potato and bindweed. There are over 1,000 species in this family.This vine flowers if grown in the tropics but here the season is just too short. It would also produce seed pods if it flowered.
The seeds contain a chemical compound, LSA, similar to LSD and with the same psychedelic/hallucinogenic effect. Perhaps just the act of growing inspires a similar effect as I swear that I saw Jack climbing this beanstalk-like vine on more than one occasion and friends have reported similar sightings. A heavy frost has reduced this vine to a sinister version of itself.
The withered leaves are hanging as if ready for Halloween. I find it almost as striking in death as I did in its life.
Any plant which has such large tropical foliage and which shows measurable growth each day is a welcome addition to my garden. What was the greatest conversation piece in your garden this past season?