Morning glory is edible and beautiful

Morning glory is edible and beautiful

We commonly say, “I love the morning glories on the back fence,” but did you know there are over 1,000 species of flowering plants in the world that are called “morning glory”? They are loosely held together in the family called Convolvulaceae and are revered for their beautiful blooms each morning.

Most morning glories unravel into full bloom in the early morning hours and then begin to fade later in the day. They give us the best show when grown in full sun. You can find them in colors of lush blue, crimson red, crisp white, Lilly Pulitzer pink and royal purple. I’ve never seen it, but I read that there is also a night-blooming morning glory!

Although so profuse in certain countries like Australia that they are considered invasive, most of the varieties we see here are coveted. Certain morning glories can live in cold temperatures while others are annual. It seems that the morning glories I have last through the coldest winter temps but hibernate and return in the spring. I think these vining, twining green tendrils covered in blooms make one of the prettiest fence covers around.

Most of us grow morning glories from seed, although they will spread from cuttings. The seeds will self-seed as they fall from a mature plant. If you want to ensure success, the seeds can be soaked in warm water before planting. They aren’t too particular about soil.

Not only beautiful but edible, the morning glory variety in Southeast Asia is a popular vegetable. They call it water spinach or swamp cabbage (ong-choy). In 2005, the state of Texas acknowledged that water spinach is a vegetable and it is grown in many locations for culinary use.

Wikipedia reminds us the morning glory was first known in China for its medicinal uses. They were used as a laxative long before drug stores existed. The flower was introduced in Japan in the ninth century where they began to cultivate it as an ornamental flower. The Japanese have led the world in developing many varieties of morning glory. They have helped in the development of hundreds of colors and sizes, including a brown variety. Even earlier, ancient civilizations used the morning glory to change latex from the Castilla tree into rubber balls. Even more interesting is the news that this use of sulfur in the morning glory juice to vulcanize rubber was a process that pre-dated Charles Goodyear’s discovery of similar by 3,000 years.

The morning glory seed was brought to Italy and Spain in the 1500s and to England in 1621, according to Harvesting History, the seed vendor website. They were an instant hit. One of the main reasons for their popularity is that they grew so quickly and so lushly that they were used to hide the outhouse (privy), turning these eyesores into “lush green temples.” A quote from the Vick’s Flower and Vegetable Garden in the 1880s says, “But a sight of good ‘patch’ of these flowers in the dewy morn is a fest for a whole day, and quite enough to tempt any lover of the beautiful to rise early to see and enjoy their glory.”

Stir Fried Morning Glory

Heat wok and add 1 T olive oil, 1 t diced ginger, 4 minced cloves garlic, 1 jalapeño pepper diced. Trim off the roots and cut 1 pound of morning glory into 2-inch sections of stem and flower. Add chopped morning glory and 1 t fish sauce, 1 t oyster sauce, 1 t lime juice and cook for 2-3 minutes. Serve.