Ipomoea violacea

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Ipomoea violacea
File:Ipomoea macrantha.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Solanales
Family: Convolvulaceae
Genus: Ipomoea
Subgenus: Eriospermum
Section: Erpipomoea
Binomial name
Ipomoea violacea

Ipomoea violacea is a perennial species of Ipomoea that occurs throughout the world by the exception of European continent. It is most commonly called 'Beach Moonflower' or 'Sea Moonflower' as the flowers open at night.[1]


A complete description is stored on the website efloras.org : "Plants perennial, woody, twining, glabrous. Stems to 5 m, often longitudinally wrinkled. Petiole 3.5-11 cm; leaf blade circular or ovate, 5-16 X 5-14 cm, base deeply cordate; lobes rounded or rarely angular, apex acuminate, mucronulate; lateral veins 7 or 8 pairs. Inflorescences 1- to few flowered; peduncle often 2.5-4.5(-7) cm. Pedicel 1.5-3 cm, thickened and clavate in fruit. Flowers nocturnal. Sepals ± circular, equal or outer 2 shorter, 1.5-2.5 cm, thinly leathery, apex obtuse or emarginate, mucronulate, enlarged in fruit and reflexed. Corolla white, with green midpetaline bands, salverform, 9-12 cm; limb 8-10 cm in diam. Stamens included; filaments inserted near base of corolla tube. Pistil included; ovary glabrous. Stigma 2-lobed. Capsule pale brown, ovoid to ± globose, 2-2.5 cm, glabrous. Seeds black, 1-1.2 cm, densely short tomentose, edges with ca. 3 mm long sericeous hairs. 2n = 30."[2]

As quoted, the flower, so to say the corolla is to be white. Therefore Ipomoea violacea cannot be mistaken with Ipomoea tricolor, commonly called Heavenly blue, but for the cultivar Pearly gates which collora is also white. This mistake might be the result of the misleading binomial name Ipomoea violacea, violeaca meaning purple. Herbariums anyway show that the flower is entirely white[3]

Comparative taxonomies

As often mistaken with Ipomoea tricolor, one must compare the taxonomy of the two plants. The subgenus being different, Ipomoea violacea should not be used as a synonym of Ipomoea tricolor. However if Ipomoea violacea has to be used as a synonym of Ipomoea tricolor, one must specify the incorrect usage by using the abbreviation 'Auct.' Auctorum.[4]

Ipomoea violacea:[4]

  • Genus: Ipomoea
  • Subgenus: Eriospermum
  • Section: Erpipomoea

Ipomoea tricolor:[5]

  • Genus: Ipomoea
  • Subgenus: Quamoclit
  • Section: Tricolor

LSA presence

According to some studies, the seeds of Ipomoea violacea would contain several ergoline alkaloids with an action similar to—but weaker than—that of LSD, and for this reason have long been used by the natives of Central America for preparing psychedelic infusions. Although it is important to note that those studies might be mistaking Ipomoea violacea for Ipomoea tricolor as for one done by the Ohio State University.[6][7]

Other works published in the scientific review Phytochemistry[8] and quoted by The Sociedade Brasileira de Farmacognosia ,[9] shows presence of LSA in Ipomoea violacea. However to be sure that the study lead by Ms. Naoki Asano are about Ipomoea violacea, subgenus eriospermum / sectio erpipomoea, one must access the complete work which unfortunately not of free access.

The discoverer of LSD, Albert Hofmann, is himself misleading the reader in his book Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers by describing Ipomoea tricolor (the flower showed in the book is clearly one of Ipomoea tricolor Heavenly blue) as Ipomoea violacea. As specified in the upper section 'description', Ipomoea violacea's corolla is white only. Therefore and as long as the studies on the LSA presence in Ipomoea violacea will not specify the complete taxonomy of the plant, it cannot be testified that Ipomoea violacea contains D-lysergic acid. As for today, only Ipomoea tricolor is proved to contain LSA in its seeds.


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