Ipomoea cristulata


Scarlet Morning Glory - Ipomoea cristulata 
Dry Creek, West of Kingston
Black Range, New Mexico, USA

The Scarlet Morning Glory, Ipomoea cristulata, is a strikingly beautiful plant, both in color and in form.  It is also known as Trans-Pecos Morning Glory, Scarlet Creeper, and Hummingbird Plant.  Of course, a different species (I. coccinea) is also called Scarlet Morning Glory - oh the glory of English Common Names.  Despite its beauty, Arizona considers this species to be a “prohibited noxious weed” - because it is an Ipomoea.

True to one of its common names, this plant is a favorite of hummingbirds.  Because its long vines  are typically low to the ground, it is reported that snakes in search of a hummingbird snack are occasionally found among the vines (I am assuming on more than a random basis).  A full description of this species can be found at the Southwest Environmental Information Network (SEINet) site.

Although found in some other locales, the primary range of this species appears to be west Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and northern Mexico (mountains). 

This species was first described by Johannes Gottfried Hallier (botantical references refer to him as “Hallier f.”).  Hallier spent four years (1893-1897) in Indonesia (Java, Boreno) and participated in an expedition to India, Sri Lanka, and the coastal areas of Southeast Asia in 1903-04.  In 1899 he published Zur Convolvulaceenflora Amerika’s.  People who do significant scientific work are not always “right minded”, however, and Hallier was a proponent of German racial superiority (which, I suppose, does make him right-wing minded).

The collected specimen (right) is a plant which Edgar A. Mearns found on August 17, 1893 at “Niggerhead Mountains” near International Border Monument 82 in Arizona (276 monuments like the one pictured to the right where placed as part of border demarkation projects).  -- This is not the type specimen. -- His work was performed under the auspices of the International Boundary Commission which resurveyed and reconstructed (United States-Mexico) boundary monuments in accordance with the boundary Conventions of 1882 and 1884.  A few days later, on August 31, Mearns bagged the first Broad-billed Hummingbird collected in New Mexico.  Mearns is an important figure in the study of natural history of North America and particularly that of the American Southwest.  In 1907, for instance, the Government Printing Office published his “Mammals of the Mexican Boundary of the United States”.

I am not sure when the name of the mountains referred to on the specimen sheet was changed, their official name is now Cerro Gallardo.

© Robert Barnes 2018-2023