Ipomoea quamoclit: Cypress vine

Family: Convolvulaceae
Common name: Cypress vine, Cypressvine morning glory, Red cypress vine, Indian pink, Cardinal creeper, Star glory, Hummingbird vine, Cardinal vine

The star of the Morning glory or Ipomoea family, these beautiful Cypress vine plants produce star-shaped flowers in red, pink or white. Red cypress vines are the ones most commonly seen in India, even in open areas and roadsides.

These plants can grow to a height of 2-3 meters by climbing on supporting structures or surrounding vegetation. They can be trained to grow on pergolas, trellises, arches, balcony railings or on nets. Their long, thin stems twine around these structures, and produce beautiful feathery green leaves.

Cypress vine leaves are 5-8 cms long, deeply dissected so that it looks thin and feathery. Flowers are about 5 cms long with a long tube that tapers towards the sepals.

This stamen tube opens up towards the petals ending in 5 beautiful, red, star-shaped petals giving the plant the name Star glory. Once established in the soil, Cypress vines grow very fast and also flower profusely. They produce an abundance of seeds ensuring that the plant lives on for many years.

They are mainly grown as ornamental plants in gardens, though they are considered as invasive weeds in some parts of the world. Cypress vines thrive in warm, tropical weather, flowering well and attracting birds, bees, and butterflies with their bright red flowers.

They are low maintenance plants that can stand ignorance, poor soil, drought and lack of fertilization very well. Cypress vines usually flower in spring and summer, after which the parent plant might die and new plants spring up from the seeds fallen on the ground.

Cypress vine flowers are very similar to that of Ipomoea hederifolia or Scarlet morning glory in shape, but the petals of Scarlet morning glory are more rounded than star shaped. The leaves are heart-shaped and not feathery like those of Cypress vines. But they both belong to the morning glory family and are seen commonly in India.

There are several other species of morning glory or Ipomoea plants that can be grown easily in home gardens, Ipomoea cairica or Coastal morning glory; Ipomoea purpurea or Common morning glory; Ipomoea lacunosa or White morning glory being some of the common varieties.

Though Cypress vines are sturdy, they respond well to some tender loving care. Watering and fertilizing them regularly will give you healthy plants that bloom well. Rich, well-drained soil is also essential to the growth of this plant. Since they are sun-lovers, they are not good indoor plants.

Propagation is through seeds that have to be soaked overnight and nicked lightly before planting in soil.

Image credits: Rajeev Nair