Morning glory refers to a wide family of plants with showy flowers and trailing vines. There are roughly 60 genera, with 1600+ species. A great number of the species, including the Mexican morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor), Hawaiian baby woodrose (Argyreia nervosa) and Christmasvine (Ipomoea corymbosa), have psychedelic effects that are likened to LSD.
What are the active compounds in Morning Glory?
The seeds of many morning glory species contain ergoline alkaloids, ergonovine, and ergine. These ergoline alkaloids are present because of a fascinating symbiotic relationship with the ergot fungus. It’s a fungi that can also infect grains used in bread production, and over history it has accidentally poisoned and drugged many people. The alkaloids found in ergot fungi helped to inspire the creation of LSD. Ergine is usually referred to as ‘d-lysergic acid amide’, or LSA.
What effect do Morning Glory seeds have?
Chewing morning glory seeds can produce a hallucinogenic effect that is similar to LSD. People may experience psychedelic effects like extreme hallucinations, intense visual and audio disturbances of size, color, and sound, and even a loss of the perception of time. Other symptoms can include an increased heart rate, anxiety, erratic behavior, muscle twitching, and dilated pupils.
Morning Glory warnings and cautions
Because of the known psychedelic effects from morning glory seeds, seed producers have been known to coat the seeds in bitter, toxic chemicals, like methylmercury. This is supposed to deter any recreational users.
Does Morning Glory have medical potential?
Many species of morning glory have been involved in traditional medicines and brews. In parts of Asia and South America, some plants have been used to create treatments that have a laxative, diuretic, or expectorant effect. The roots of Hawaiian baby woodrose (Argyreia nervosa), also known as ‘elephant creeper’, are used in Ayurvedic practices to rejuvenate and promote sweating. It’s a plant that was endemic to India but introduced to many places, including Hawaii.
Cultural symbolism of Morning Glory
The large showy flowers have inspired a series of whimsical species names like old man’s nightcap (Calystegia sepium) and moon vine (Ipomoea alba). Varieties of the well-known psychoactive species Mexican morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor) have names like ‘flying saucer’, ‘rainbow flash’, and ‘summer skies’.
Prominent spiritual figures in south American cultures, like Aztec priests, used morning glory seeds as an entheogen to convene with spiritual beings and convey messages to the people. Mexican morning glory and common morning-glory (Ipomoea purpurea) are native to south America and would likely have been used by various groups for their psychoactive effects.
Moon vine sap was also added to the latex from the rubber tree to create rubber. This rubber was then used to create balls used in a popular ballgame of ancient Mesoamerica.
Because of their ornamental beauty, morning glories are often planted in gardens and grown along pergolas or trellises. The seeds can be bought from many gardening shops across the World. They are legal to grow for ornamental reasons, but many countries have regulations in place over actually extracting LSA from the seeds.
What does Morning Glory look like?
As the name suggests, most morning glory flowers unfurl in the morning and fade as the evening draws in. The plants are known for their large trumpet-shaped flowers that are frequently grown in gardens for their ornamental beauty. Many species are also hybridized to create favorable colors and flower shapes.
It’s a vine plant that can grow quickly, so it’s considered invasive in many areas. The leaves are also usually very broad, which can overwhelm other plants.
Where does Morning Glory grow?
Morning glory species can be found around the World — from unique species on islands like Madagascar and Lord Howe Island to common species found across the UK or US. As a vine plant, they tend to climb across other vegetation, so they can usually be found in sun-exposed areas of rainforest, clearings and woodland.
Loved by hummingbirds and pollinators, the morning glory is a beautiful plant to discover in the wild. Certain varieties can be grown in the garden, but be wary of older, fast-growing varieties that produce lots of seeds. While the psychoactive effects of some morning glory species attract some people to them, dosages, effects, and secondary symptoms are not as well documented as LSD.
Featured Image: Hawaiian baby woodrose (Argyreia nervosa) | Photo by Loi Miao on Wikimedia Commons