My grandfather didn’t have much time to pass along the wisdom he’d accumulated, but he liked to take his grandchildren out to the garden. There he’d show us the way to make snapdragons open their “mouths” and where on the stem roses should be clipped. He also kept us on the lookout for sneaky morning glories. The stems liked to twine up and take over plants everywhere on his property. Although he died when I was eight years old, I clearly remember him demonstrating how the plant must be spiraled back to the ground before being pulled out so that the desired plant isn’t damaged.
Our property has the same curse his did. I admire the misleadingly delicate look of the plant even as I wage battle against it. Morning glory marches into our vegetable and flower beds, wraps around bushes, clambers up the trellis right along with the climbing rose. The worst? It’s now invading our pastures. I’m told morning glory is toxic to livestock. Since I like to be informed, I tried to find out exactly what danger it poses. One site tells me that it is a nitrate accumulator, causing nitrite poisoning and another notes that it is a dangerous source of indole alkaloids. Mostly I encounter links espousing it as a recreational hallucinogen. It would be handy to have thrill seekers mosey out my way to pull all the morning glory they could use. But I trip on it the regular old awkward way—by stumbling on the vines. Then I mutter at it under my breath, another thing I learned from Grandpa.