Annual vine 1 - 2 m long Stem
: twining and climbing, slender, hairy, and if cut or broken then exuding a milky sap. Leaves
: alternate, long-stalked, non-toothed, hairy, 5 - 12 cm long, three-lobed (occasionally five-lobed, rarely without lobes), with indented base, and each lobe base rounded with rounded areas between lobes, but each lobe tapering to a pointed tip. Flowers
: many, one to three per leaf axil, short-stalked (shorter than leaf stalk), usually blue or purple, sometimes white, showy, 3 - 5 cm long, radially symmetric, funnel-shaped or somewhat trumpet-shaped. Sepals
: five, conspicuously hairy below middle, 1.5 - 2.5 cm long, lance-shaped, widest at base then narrowing near middle and tapering to a long, linear, pointed, recurved tip. Petals
: five, but fused into a tube or funnel with flaring or spreading limb, which may be shallowly five-lobed or merely wavy along edges. Stamens
: five, attached to inside base of petal tube, not extending beyond petal tube. Pistil
: with one, three-chambered, superior ovary; a single style shorter than the petal tube; and one stigma with three small, rounded lobes. Fruit
: stalked, two- to four-valved, one- to three-chambered, rounded capsules with two seeds per chamber.
Similar species: Ipomoea hederacea is most similar to I. purpurea, except that species usually has unlobed leaves, and the sepals are only up to 1.5 cm long and rarely have very long pointed tips. Other species of Ipomoea in our area have hairless sepals (or sometimes with a few bristles on the edges), white flowers (or some with purple or red coloring in the throat), and only two-lobed stigmas.
Flowering: August to October
Habitat and ecology: Introduced from tropical America, often found as a weed in agricultural fields, cultivated areas, and other waste ground.
Occurence in the Chicago region: non-native
Etymology: Ipomoea comes from the Greek word meaning worm-like, possibly referring to the twining and twisting stems, or the twisted flower buds. Hederacea refers to ivy, in this case the similarly shaped leaves.
Author: The Field Museum