This shining star should be the center attraction in any hummingbird garden. When the light hits the flowers just right the yellow star at its center lights up in a gorgeous display! It is one of the very few examples of a red morning glory, but be careful…it can run away with your garden if you are not careful. In the right situation this plant can become aggressive in its reach for the sun! It is a native of the eastern North America; running from Texas and Florida north to Michigan and Massachusetts. In Arizona and Arkansas it has been declared a noxious weed!
As with most members of this family, you need to be careful of ingesting the seeds. The seeds are believed to be highly toxic. Upon ingestion you will find they have hallucinatory properties which may cause distortion of sight and hearing!
This small morning glory was first described in 1753 by Linnaeus who took a word meaning scarlet or red (coccinea) for its species name. The Genus name is taken from two words in the Greek language: ips – meaning worm, and homoios – which means resembling or looks like. These two Greek words combined refers to the worm like twining of the plants of this genus!
In the language of flowers the morning glory symbolizes affection, and truly the myth of Chien Niu and Chih Neu reflects that. In Chinese lore they were young people entrusted by God to care for water buffalo (Chien Niu) and seamstress duties (Chih Neu). When they fell in love they forgot their duties in the heavenly kingdom. As a result they were punished by being separated. The star shaped flower of the morning glory represents the one day a year that they may share their affection with one another!