Monday, September 18, 2006

I'm Guilty! So Arrest Me

The crime, in case you aren't up on these matters, has to do with morning glories. More specifically, growing them.

If you collect seed catalogs and turn to the morning glory department, you might notice a warning note at the tag end of the descriptions: cannot ship to AZ. Or something something of the sort.

As an afficienado of these wonderful old-fashioned vines, I've often puzzled over this legality. Precisely, I ask myself, what crime did ipomoea commit that got the state legislature down on them? Especially since they seem so very much at home along fences and embankments once the monsoon rains have arrived. Just like they belong here.

Was it the fact that in the age of hippies and the drug scene, some clever kid discovered that morning glory seeds are a psychedelic? Couldn't have that since the same clever kids realized that commercial packaged seeds are treated with a poisonous anti-fungicide. Voila! Grow your own!

Maybe the common white/pink bindweed above (or other morning glories) tangled up the cotton plants, making mechanical harvesting difficult. Couldn't have that -- cotton was one of Arizona's 3 Cs (cotton, copper, citrus) supporting the economy before growing houses and shopping centers began turning a bigger buck.

Yet another explanation from a friend I consider reasonably well informed and trustworthy -- cattle ate the plants and were sickened. Makes sense if the seeds are as powerful as reputed.

In any event, the area where I live is home to one helluva lot of vines with blue-turning-to-purple and little bright red flowers. The blues (which I'm sure are the precursor to the big Heavenly Blues of the catalogs) are from Mexico/Central American, long since gone native, but the reds belong here from the get-go.

Curious: tho cattle may not be able to stomach ipomoea plants, grasshoppers and snails and leaf miners all have a feast as you can plainly see above. Even people -- The Google informed me that there's a Chinese morning glory often dished up as ong chow or water spinach. Furthermore, morning glories are first cousin to a yummy member of the convolvulaceae family -- the sweet potato.

The Asian connection reminds me that a zillion years ago, my then partner rented a garage workshop from an elderly Japanese couple. The husband was a fancier of Japanese morning glories -- beautiful, bushy plants; he got the seed illegally from his home country! In more fortunate states of the union, you can now buy seeds for these splendid ornamentals.

Here's more background on ipomoea from Wikipedia:

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 it to coagulate rubber latex to produce bouncing rubber balls. The sulphur in the Morning Glory vine served to vulcanize the rubber; a process which pre-dates the Charles Goodyear discovery by over 1000 years.

Quite a history for a pretty flower!


Lane said...

The colors and composition of your photos is just lovely! Morning glories and trumpet vines just remind me of cozy cottages!

Granny J said...

Thank you, Lane, for your nice words! Morning glories certainly brighten our late summers here.

pb said...

Hmm, I would bet that they are an invasive species not native to AZ.

Locals who relocate to your area always mention the ban on bringing in seeds.

Granny J said...

Curiously enough, the morning glory that has really naturalized here is from Mexico -- it's not one of those European or Asiatic interlopers. And the reason for the ban? The cotton farmers down in the desert; apparently morning glory vines get caught in the mechanical harvesting machines.

Tall nephew said...

Pretty... Oh well, us here at the farm only get 1 thing caught in the cotton pickers: Cotton =D

Granny J said...

TN -- it seems to me that I finally got for-real explanation for the ban, but that's too long ago. So, are you growing cotton?

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