Wild sweet potato

Ipomoea pandurata

This herbaceous perennial plant consists of a twining vine up to 20-30' long. It will climb adjacent vegetation readily, or sprawl across the ground in open areas. The terete stems are usually hairless, but sometimes pubescent, and often reddish purple. Along the stems are alternate leaves up to 6" long and 4" across. These leaves are usually cordate and hairless, although sometimes the smaller leaves are ovate. They have long hairless petioles and smooth margins. Both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves are olive green, while the petioles are often reddish purple.
Flowering stalks develop from the axils of the leaves; each flowering stalk has a cluster of 1-5 funnelform flowers. The corolla of each flower is white, except for rosy pink or reddish purple coloration deep within its throat. The corolla has 5 shallow lobes; it is about 2½-3" across when it is fully open and similarly in length. The stamens of the flower are white; they project slightly from the throat of the corolla. The blunt overlapping sepals are light green, hairless, and about ½-¾" long; they often have narrow ridges. The flowers bloom during the morning (or during the afternoon on cloudy days), and they are individually short-lived. However, a typical plant will bloom for about 2 months during mid- to late summer. Each flower is replaced by a 2-celled capsule that contains 2-4 seeds. These flat seeds are conspicuously hairy along their outer edges, and pubescent elsewhere. The root system produces a large tuber that can lie several feet beneath the ground surface and weigh up to 20-30 lb.

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