Page 54 - June2017

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Moonflower
(
ipomoea alba
)
The species
ipomoea alba
is native to tropical parts of
South and Central America from
Argentina to Mexico and north
to Florida. As early as 1600 BC,
Mesoamerican civilizations used
the sulfur in the moonflower
combined with the latex from the
Castilla elastic tree to produce
rubber balls that were used in a sports game popular at that
time. This technique predated Charles Goodyear’s discovery of a
method for rubber tire fabrication by three thousand years.
The lunar opposite, night-blooming relative of the morning
glory, the Moonflower touts large, moon-shaped blooms that
measure five to six inches, on a quick growing climbing vine with
heart-shaped foliage and a powerful yet pleasing scent. The
blooms burst open in less than thirty seconds, rather than the
usual, slow unfurling process typical of most plant.
They remain open through the night and close when the sun
rises, although at times the blooms will remain on display for
a brief time in the morning hours on cloudy days, allowing for
some rare daytime viewing.
Vines will grow quickly, reaching a height of up to twenty feet,
often with leaves large enough to provide some shade. The
deep flowers are especially attractive to butterflies and moths,
particularly the pink-spotted hawk moth. The moonflower is a
perfect annual cover for a trellis, arbor, or archway.
Seeds of the Moonflower resemble small brown nuts, are
rather tough, and should be nicked or chafed with a file before
soaking overnight prior to planting in a sunny area. In very
warm climates, the moonflower will remain a perennial but the
collection of seeds makes it possible to use it as an annual when
winters are cool.
Although the genus of the Moonflower does include food crops
such as tubers of sweet potatoes (
ipomoea batatas
) and the
leaves of water spinach (
ipomoea aquatica
), other species of
night-blooming plants are highly poisonous and may be easily
confused. So perhaps the best advice is to refrain entirely from
consumption.
Night
Blooming
Jasmine
(
cestrum nocturnum
)
The Night Blooming
Jasmine
(
cestrum
nocturnum
) is a
woody, evergreen,
tropical shrub from
the West Indies and
Latin America with
tubular greenish-white flowers and a commanding and
potent sweet fragrance. If grown indoors, this gem
may bloom even in winter if kept between seventy and
eighty degrees.
Attractive to moths and butterflies, it may grow to
over ten feet in height but can be controlled with
pruning or by limiting its growth in a container. When
planted in moist, sandy soil in an area that receives
several hours of sun, care for the night Jasmine is
simple.
Water sparingly, as too much water may cause root
rot or mold. Fertilize with a water soluble solution
indoors or a time-released granulated formula out of
doors. Prune dead branches and blooms to encourage
new growth.
Mixed reports concerning the toxicity of the fruit and
berries of the night blooming jasmine give reason for
caution around young children and pets. Ingestion
may cause elevated temperature, rapid pulse, gastritis,
diarrhea and vomiting. With careful planning and
vigilance, this plant is worth any inconvenience.
54 |
GALVESTON MONTHLY |
JUNE 2017