Ipomoea pandurata

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: wild potato vine 
Type: Vine
Family: Convolvulaceae
Native Range: North America
Zone: 6 to 8
Height: 15.00 to 30.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to September
Bloom Description: White flowers with reddish purple eyes
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist soils. Established plants have some drought tolerance, however. Plants can become somewhat weedy and difficult to eradicate from areas of the landscape due to its extensive root system. Deadhead spent flowers to help prevent naturalization by wind-blown seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ipomoea pandurata, commonly called wild potato vine, man-of-the-earth, man root and Indian potato, is a vigorous, twining or trailing perennial vine of the morning glory family that grows to 15-30’ long on smooth to slightly pubescent, sometimes purplish stems rising from a vertical, starchy root system that matures over time to as much as 4’ long with a weigh of 25-30 pounds. This vine is native to moist to somewhat dry habitats including fallow and cultivated fields, roadsides, dry slopes, railroad right-of-ways, and along streams in Eastern North America from Connecticut to Ontario to Michigan and Iowa south to Texas and Florida. It typically sprawls along the ground in open areas or climbs vegetation. It is found throughout most of the State of Missouri.

This vine is noted for its large, funnel-shaped, white flowers (2-3” across) with reddish purple eyes. Flowers bloom from the leaf axils in cymose inflorescences composed of up to 7 perfect actinomorphic (radially symmetrical) flowers from late May to September. The funnelform corolla of each flower has five shallow lobes. Simple, polymorphic (variable), olive green leaves are thin, entire, alternate, petiolate, cordate to ovate or occasionally pandurate (fiddle-shaped), with each leaf extending to 3-6” long with a pointed tip. Fruit is a glabrous, ovoid, 2-celled dehiscent capsule (to 3/5” long) which opens at maturity to disburse its hairy seeds to the wind.

Roots can be cooked and were an important food source for native Americans but fresh uncooked roots have purgative properties. Native Americans also used the roots for preparation of poultices, infusions and teas for treatment of a variety of medical problems including rheumatism, cholera, kidney disease, coughs, abdominal pains and constipation.

Genus name comes from the Greek words ips meaning worm and homoios meaning resembling, in probable reference to the sprawling underground roots of genus plants. On the other hand, some experts suggest the genus name is in reference to the worm-like twining plant habit.

Specific epithet means fiddle-like in reference to leaf shape.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Host for the sweet potato weevil. Will often spread somewhat invasively in the landscape.

Garden Uses

Provides attractive ornamental cover for fences, decks, trellises or other structures around the home. May be grown as a ground cover. Containers.