Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Man Root, Bush Morning Glory
Ipomoea leptophylla

Family: Convolvulaceae (kon-volv-yoo-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ipomoea (ip-oh-MEE-a) (Info)
Species: leptophylla (lep-toh-FIL-uh) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

6 members have or want this plant for trade.


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Seed is poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year
Blooms repeatedly


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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By Gourd
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There are a total of 11 photos.
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2 positives
5 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Gryllus On Oct 1, 2013, Gryllus from North River, ND wrote:

I have grown ipomoea leptophylla (bush morning glory) in Fargo, ND with great success. I planted 3 small roots next to our house 15 years ago. We regularly get down to -30 F every winter, hence planting on the south side close to the house. Our soil is heavy with a lot of clay, so I dug holes 2 1/2 feet deep and filled them with a mixture of sand, gravel and potting soil. After about 5 years I had large nice plants (only two survived). One has many stems about 5 feet long that are covered with nice pink flowers about 4 inches across, the other one is much smaller with 3 inch flowers. These plants are slow to reach maturity, but the hundreds of flowers make it worthwhile. So far both plants get a bit larger each year. These are not flowers for a small garden. I confine the large one with a wire cage 5 feet high so it doesn't sprawl across the patio. If you want seeds you need at least 2 plants (no self polination). I plan to plant a couple of small plants away from the house to seen if they survive.

Positive 45eriepa On Aug 16, 2010, 45eriepa from Lexington, MA wrote:

I've been growing Ipomoea leptophylla in the ground for 17 years, during which it has experienced a low of -13oF (-25oC) without damage. Of course, the enormous roots delve deeply, below any frost.. It is deciduous; blooming period is June through August. The flowers are somewhat scattered, but are large and a vibrant blue-purple. It is not to be moved, so choose its spot wisely, bearing in mind that it sprawls without support. I use a rose bush for that purpose, to fairly good effect.

Neutral BajaBlue On Oct 10, 2009, BajaBlue from Rancho Santa Rita, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This striking plant is not really a bush but many arching stems forming a dense mound.

Large pink flowers bloom in the cooler part of the day usually late spring to early summer. They prefer sandy soil, full sun and periodic deep watering. They die back to the ground in mid-summer.

Neutral htop On Jan 31, 2009, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have not grown this plant. Man root, bush morning glory (Ipomoea leptophylla) is also commonly known as bush moonflower, man of the earth, big-root morning-glory and tumbleweed morning glory (the top of the plant may break off and blow in the wind). A deciduous perennial, it is native to Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. It grows in sandy or gravelly soils on prairies, sandhills prairie, plains, meadows, pastures, savannahs, roadsides and dunes; however, it is adaptable well drained to garden soils. In cultivation if planted in clay, be sure that the be sure that water does not stand in the area in winter because the root may rot.

Bush morning glory has an erect to decumbent habit with stems that are bushy, branching and glabrous. It is 1.5 to 4 feet tall with it typically being 3 feet (90 cm) tall and wide. The willow-like, short-stalked, entire leaf blades are linear to narrowly lanceolate. They are glabrous, 2 to 6 inches long, less than 1/3 inch wide and have tips tapering to points.

Bush morning glory is related to the sweet potato. It has a large, edible up to 4 feet long, up to 1 foot in diameter taproot that can weigh 20 to 40 lbs. The taproot is bitter when raw. The root is very cold hardy and bush morning glory is very drought-tolerant due to its large root system. The lateral roots can branch out 10 to15 feet. However, this makes the plant difficult to transplant. Cheyennes, Arapahoes and Koways roast it as a food source food when pressed by hunger in emergency situations; however, it is not very palatable nor very nutritious. The roots can be baked, boiled or roasted.

From May through August, clusters of 1 to 3 blooms that are funnel-shaped and 2 to 3.5 inches long appear on 3 to 4 inches long stalks in leaf axils. The blooms are pinkish-lavender, purplish-red, lilac or pink with dark throats and have 5 stamen. The fruit are in the form of egg-shaped, long-pointed, smooth capsules that contain 1 to 4 densely hairy, brown seeds. Sow the seeds in spring after chipping and then soaking for 6 to 8 hours in water. Sow seeds about 6mm deep in a peaty seed sowing mix. Ipomoea leptophylla seeds will usually germinate in 5 to 21 days.

Neutral Lily_love On May 5, 2008, Lily_love from Central, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

I'm new to this plant. Received 3 of them as gift from the SW region. They grew slowly for me, I did however overwintered them inside for fear frost would cause damage even though the tag indicates that it's hardy to zone 5-8. I'll plant one in the ground (for experimentation with zonal hardiness), will keep the other 2 rhyzomes to move indoor and hopefully gain more knowledge of this plant's cuture, not until then I won't add my zipcode report until I learn for certain this plant indeed survive here in my zone.
The soil here is inheriently acidic, so I was told of the comercial pre-mix. That's what I've to work with. It's also said to suit for xeriscape garden, thus I'll make my site selection where it's well drain, and avoid standing water. The roots as seen on pictures I posted on p.f. are but the leader roots/rhyzomes. The feeders roots are white and stringy fragile looking, so handling/transplanting must be difficult to begin with.

Neutral bluespiral On May 1, 2007, bluespiral from (Zone 7a) wrote:

I germinated 2 seedlings last year, and grew one in a pot in sun and one in the ground in partial shade. They got to about 6 or 8" and then expired after a long time dwindling. I know one thing - good ol' humid, clay-ey Maryland is no arid, semi-desert climate habitat. Also, our pH was tested around 6.6 - 6.8 many years ago - does I. leptophylla prefer more alkaline pH?

This plant comes close to my ideal of a beautiful plant, with its slightly silvery leaves; open, airy growth habit; and "fairy-like" flowers - Gourd, I too would love to know what it wants that I couldn't give it.

Neutral Gourd On Feb 5, 2006, Gourd from Mesilla Park, NM wrote:

This is the 2nd time I have tried to grow this Ipomoea. The first time, the heat seemed to stunt it's growth last year.

This year, I am keeping the seedlings inside awhile longer before transplanting. They were grown with bottom heat, lights and soaked the seeds overnight. Hopefully this year it will get growing.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Moreno Valley, California
Denver, Colorado
Rolla, Kansas
Lexington, Massachusetts
Helena, Montana
Polkton, North Carolina
Fargo, North Dakota
Scio, Oregon

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