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WILD POTATO VINE Ipomoea pandurata

We are in the middle of a serious health pandemic. The deaths by COVID-19 have exceeded 125,000 in our nation. When compared to the number of deaths by our military personnel in the Korean War plus the Vietnam War (33,686 + 58,220) we have already lost 30,000 or more to COVID-19 than in those wars combined.

These are turbulent times. As with all societal change there are bad results and good results. The deaths, hospitalizations and lesser illnesses are very bad. On the other hand, society has become more aware of the sacrificial services of the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, police, ambulance personnel, grocers, garbage collectors, truck drivers, and on the list goes.

Another positive result may be the concern for neighbors, because my neglect to follow the practical medical guidelines endangers my family and my neighbors. We Christians are called to recognize anew the instruction by Jesus to “Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.”

While the pandemic rages about us, God still provides beauty around us, from beautiful sunrises and sunsets, to chirping birds, and wildflowers.

WILD POTATO VINE

Ipomoea pandurata

When I first saw this wildflower I thought it was a white morning glory. It is in the Morning Glory Family, but it is unique. As with the other family members it is invasive. However, the horticultural articles I read noted that one member of the family had significant value for Native Americans for many years, wild potato vine. In keeping with the scripture passage, its blossoms are like trumpets that herald the good news of God’s love.

Wild potato vine has a white bloom that is shaped the same as the common morning glory; however, the morning glory is purple, red, bluish, and variegated but rarely pure white. The throat of the wild potato vine is lavender-red and usually deeper than the other morning glories.

The bloom of the wild potato vine is 2 to 3 inches in diameter, the largest in the family. The leaf of the wild potato vine is shaped like a large arrowhead and, in contrast, the morning glory’s leaves on my garden fence are shaped like lyres.

As noted above, the wild potato vine has a utilitarian history. The root is large and edible. When the plant survives several years, the fattened root may weigh 20 pounds and be 2 feet long. For centuries Native Americans thrived on these roots. (Rickett) Our forefathers, at the counsel of the Indians, made a powder from the root as a treatment for ringworm.

The wildflowers of our region remind me of the psalmist when he said, “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which Thou hast done,... if I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count” (Psalm 40:5).

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Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. To purchase a two-volume set of books featuring his wildflower columns, visit The Sketching Pad in Olde Town Conyers, or call 770-929-3697 or text 404-824-3697. Email him at odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com.

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