Common morning glory
Common morning glory

Common morning glory biology
Ipomoea purpurea
Family: Convolvulaceae (Bindweed family).

Common names: Common morning glory, Morning glory, Small morning glory, Tall morning glory.

Confused with: Littlebell (I. triloba), Bellvine (I. plebia), Cowvine (I. lonchophylla), and Desert cowvine (I. diamantinensis). These species can be distinguished by:

* The cotyledon leaves – Cowvine and desert cowvine have deeply divided cotyledons, with 2 long, thin fingers. These fingers are 3 – 4 cm long in cowvine and 4 – 6 cm long in desert cowvine. Littlebell, bellvine and common morning glory cotyledons are not deeply divided. Littlebell cotyledons are divided with the fingers about ¾ the length of a “V” shaped cotyledon leaf. Bellvine cotyledons are divided with the fingers more than half the length of the cotyledon, and the cotyledon longer than it is wide. Common morning glory cotyledons are divided with the fingers less than half the length of the cotyledon, and the cotyledon as wide as it is long.

* Leaf shape and size – Cowvine leaves are 3 – 10 cm long, 1 – 7 cm wide and relatively flat at the base. Desert cowvine leaves are 5 – 15 cm long and 2 – 8 cm wide with a pommel-like protrusion at the base. Bellvine leaves are 3 – 8 cm long, 1 – 6 cm wide and generally triangular in shape, cut up from the base of the leaf to the stem. Common morning glory leaves are 2 – 10 cm long and wide, almost circular in shape, cut up from the base of the leaf to the stem and have a distinctly pointed tip. Young littlebell leaves are intermediate in shape between bellvine and common morning glory, 2 – 8 cm long and wide, heart shaped. Older leaves develop a distinctive 3-lobed shape, with all 3 lobes distinctly pointed.

* Flower colour – littlebell has a pinkish/purple flower with a darker throat. Common morning glory flowers vary from almost white to bright crimson to purplish with a lighter or white throat, and bellvine, cowvine and desert cowvine all have white flowers.


Seedling leaves - are butterfly-shaped, 22 - 26 mm long and 23 – 27 mm wide on stalks that are 23 to 25 mm long.

Leaves - the first true leaves and subsequent adult leaves are heart-shaped. These leaves have short hairs on both leaf surfaces and are pale green underneath. The margins of the leaves may be three-lobed or entire, are 20 – 150 mm long and 20 – 120 mm wide and are borne on stalks 5 – 150 mm long.

Plants - have climbing stems that are generally greater than 50 cm long.

Flowers - are trumpet-shaped and 30 – 60 mm long and wide. The flower colour varies from white to violet/blue or mauve. The flowers occur singly or in small groups of two to three on flowering stalks that are 30 – 180 mm long and arise from the leaf forks.

Seeds - the seed head is a round, papery capsule, 8 - 10 mm wide, with up to six angular brown seeds 4 – 5 mm in length that are covered in small membranous scales.

Lifecycle/Biology: A vigorous annual climber that emerges in spring and summer and can flower throughout the year, although flowering in most common in spring and summer.

Ecology: A weed of cultivated and disturbed/neglected areas. This species can grow on a wide variety of soil types from sandy/alluvium to heavy clays.

The problem: A garden escape that is still commonly grown in gardens as an ornamental. Common morning glory competes for light, soil water and nutrients, and can twine through and over cotton plants, interfering with in-crop management and harvesting by binding cotton plants together. It has the potential to be a similar problem to bellvine in cotton. Scattered populations of common morning glory have been found in the Emerald and Byee cotton areas.

Distribution: Scattered populations occur throughout New South Wales and Queensland

Origin: An introduced species from Tropical America. It was introduced as a garden ornamental and is still commonly grown in gardens.


Plants of Western New South Wales, p. 557.

Crop Weeds of Northern Australia, p. 125 – 126.

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