What is it?
Another species of Ipomoea morning glory, sometimes known as Mexican morning glory or just morning glory. It’s an herbaceous annual or perennial, a twining liana growing to 2–4 m (7–13 ft) tall. The leaves are spirally arranged, 3–7 cm long with a 1.5–6 cm long petiole. The flowers are trumpet-shaped, 4–9 cm (2–4 in) in diameter, most commonly blue with a white to golden yellow centre.
Where does it live?
Ipomoea Tricolor is native to the New World tropics, and widely cultivated and naturalised elsewhere, where it is an introduced species and often a noxious weed. It is found all over the island of Puerto Rico and can grow in a wide variety of conditions.
Why is it here?
As with many of the plants in these boxes, Mexican morning glory is a woody vine native to the island of Puerto Rico. According to a 2014 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture such vines are thriving in the era of climate change, also known as the Anthropocene. As conditions have changed (drier summer months, warming trends that affect the timing of flowering and fruiting plants, etc…), these vines have begun to supplant larger native trees. The resulting loss of overall biomass has meant less Carbon Dioxide (CO2) captured by the fauna of the island, and thus more CO2 in the atmosphere, and thus faster climate change. Think of these plants as yet another “canary in the coal mine” of global warming, symbolic of changes taking place all over the globe. We have turned our thoughts toward Puerto Rico specifically in response to the Ghost Fishing anthology and its call for “eco-justice.” Hurricane intensity and frequency is on the rise as the planet warms. The same social, political and economic systems that have energized those storms has already ensured- through a long legacy of colonialism and racism- that they will land hardest on those least responsible for climate change. Hurricanes Sandy and Maria are exhibits A and B in the case for fighting for eco-justice. We hope you will not forget this, and that you will join in that fight.
The seeds, vines, flowers, and leaves contain ergoline alkaloids, and have been used for centuries by many Mexican Native American cultures as an entheogen. The hallucinogenic properties of the seeds are usually attributed to ergine (also known as d-lysergic acid amide, or LSA), although the validity of the attribution remains disputed. Lysergic acid hydroxyethylamide and ergonovine are also considered to be contributing psychedelic alkaloids in the plant. While ergine is listed as a Schedule III substance in the United States, parts of the plant itself are not controlled, and seeds and plants are still sold by many nurseries and garden suppliers.
Richard Schultes in 1941 described Mexican Native American use in a short report documenting the use dating back to Aztec times cited in TiHKAL by Alexander Shulgin. Further research was published in 1960, when Don Thomes MacDougall reported that the seeds of Ipomoea tricolor were used as sacraments by certain Zapotecs, sometimes in conjunction with the seeds of Rivea corymbosa, another species which has a similar chemical composition, with lysergol instead of ergometrine. The seeds also contain glycosides, which may cause nausea if consumed.