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The glorious morning glory

These morning glories were deemed undesirable by building management and destroyed; such a waste of herbal benefits!
These morning glories were deemed undesirable by building management and destroyed; such a waste of herbal benefits!
V.L. Jackson

Some people revel in this lovely vine’s trumpet-shaped blooms while others, including many municipalities nation-wide, label the morning glory as a noxious weed for its ability to overtake much available space, both horizontally and vertically. Whether you find it as its wild cousin, the field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) or plant the domestic variety, Convolvulus ipomoea, deliberately (take THAT, building managers who hate flowers in their community gardens!), there are benefits to having it around. Aside from the aesthetic value of this beautiful flower, of course, you will find it also has the ability to attract useful pollinators such as butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, which also add eye-pleasing qualities while helping other plants in their life cycles. Morning glories are helpful in attracting insects away from other plants where they would be unwanted, such as aphids. Add some hungry ladybugs to the garden and you’ll keep all your plants happy.

The surprising element to the morning glory picture, however, is the fact that this plant possesses health benefits in a more direct application. The leaves, for starters, can be used in a way similar to broadleaf plantain for relief of insect bites. While outdoors, where many field bindweed vines can be found on old fences, for example, take some of the leaves and crush them to allow the liquid “juice” inside out (it’s not plentiful but it will therefore be concentrated). Spread this on the bite area and you’ll find the itchiness will be reduced. For more potent usage, gather several of the leaves and make a poultice from them, leaving it on until the swelling, redness and pain or itch are gone. Other skin problems such as rashes, boils, pimples and similar irritations can also be ameliorated with the help of the morning glory’s leaves. If you were to combine this plant’s liquid, in the form of a tincture or infusion, with that of the broadleaf plantain, in fact, you would have a formidable ally when insects or other assaulters of your skin attack.

The flowers, as well, are an important part of the morning glory family’s arsenal. To make a natural remedy for sore eyes, whether from reading, too much sun and fun at the beach (especially when you’re dealing with salt water spray) or pool (from chlorine and other pool chemicals), or even from an attack of the Night Before the Hangover Monster, make an infusion of morning glory flowers (PLEASE, and this applies also to the leaves, make sure they have not been treated with any garden chemicals first!). Allow this liquid to cool down and soak some gauze or cotton balls in it, then let them just sit comfortably on your eyes. Open or closed, this will relieve swelling, itching, that sand-in-the-eyes sensation (which may well be from sand in your eyes). The liquid will be a mild cleanser and pain reliever to the lids and eyes themselves.

One word of caution: do NOT ingest the seeds of this plant in any manner whatsoever, as they are toxic and can cause hallucinations. (There, now watch some brain donors decide they WANT to try this. Well, you’ve been warned not to do it. If you’re dumb enough to want to try frying your brain, at least do the rest of us all a favor and don’t drive, operate machinery, or reproduce. Ever.)