Ipomoea Seeds 101

Shepherd, TX(Zone 8b)

I took some photos of the four most commonly sold morning glory seeds to help anyone who has wondered what they may look like. I must note as a disclaimer that I don't claim to be a 'professional', I'm just posting photos of what I have and relaying my experiences with each. If anyone has anything to add to this, or feels I'm in error, don't hesitate to do so. (Like no anyone would, anyway!) :-P

My first photo is Ipomoea alba, 'Moonflower'. The seeds are generally an ivory white, but mine have turned sort of a gold color from age, and I've had some that were more brown. I think the brown seeds mostly have to do with how 'green' they are when taken from the pod. I took some out of a pod that wasn't completely dry, and they dried a darker color than the ones that came from totally dry pods. They're one of the largest Ipomoea seeds, and easily recognizable.

Thumbnail by QueenB
Shepherd, TX(Zone 8b)

The next is Ipomoea nil (imperialis). They come in 3 basic colors: light (brown or tan), brown, and black. Size may vary with these, depending on how happy the vine was. They have a super-fine fuzz on them with a noticeable indentation down the back of the seed, and are somewhat 'boat-shaped' (shape will vary). Most, if not all, seeds that are processed will have lost the fuzz off them. I read that seeds of plants that have variegated leaves will be brown with a darker streak going through the ridge. I tried to capture that in this photo, but you barely see it here. You can tell better when you actually look at the seed. Most Japanese morning glories are I. nil, some being I. nil hybrids.

This message was edited Feb 8, 2005 11:11 PM

Thumbnail by QueenB
Shepherd, TX(Zone 8b)

These are Ipomoea purpurea. They're small compared to I. nil, have more of a rounded look to them, and have a much more prominent indentation. Same applies here with the super-fine fuzz. Most dark seeds will appear black or black-brown, and the lighter ones will appear ivory to pale tan. These are what are considered "Western" morning glories (along with I. tricolor). These are a few of the varieties sold:

Star of Yelta
Crimson Rambler
Grampa Otts
Milky Way
President Tyler
Knolia's Black
Tall Mix

This message was edited Feb 8, 2005 11:27 PM

Thumbnail by QueenB
Shepherd, TX(Zone 8b)

Lastly is I. tricolor. The seeds are obviously different from the first three by their teardrop-shaped, nearly triangular appearance. They also come in black, dark brown, and light ivory or tan. They have no fuzz. There are four main cultivars on the market:

1. 'Heavenly Blue' (black)
2. 'Pearly Gates' (black)
3. 'Flying Saucers' (light)
4. 'Blue Star' (light)

One other rare heirloom, 'Wedding Bells', has black seed. If anyone happens to know what color 'Summer Skies' seed is supposed to be, I'd love to know...

Thumbnail by QueenB
Jones Creek, TX(Zone 9a)

Bravo Stacy..........that is a wonderful job of documenting and potographing the seed......we needed that and now we have something to go back to and look at to at least give us a clue of "What could this be". I don't know if you are right or not on all points but for now I will take your word for it as I have some of these seed and they look like the ones you have posted.........Good job,....Bravo again and thanks a bunch.........


Thumbnail by WillowWasp
Greenville, SC

This is wonderful! I'm always hoping there are photos of seeds at the database. I've received packets of fluff and chaff and like to know if there is any viable seed in there. I've just planted the whole mess and will see if anything comes up.

Seattle, WA(Zone 8b)

Can those pictures be uploaded to the PlantFiles pages? That would be awesome for refrence sake.
Great job!


OC, CA & Twin Lakes , IA(Zone 4b)

Thank You, QB

Needville, TX(Zone 9a)

Good job QB :)

Shepherd, TX(Zone 8b)

Thanks, everyone. :-)

I'd like to post these to the PF's, but I'm not sure which variety I should post each one under, with the exception of the Moonvine. There's so many of each. I'd like to redo the photos actually; I'm not happy with the quality of the photos, and I think I could do a better job in natural light rather than with a flash. If it stays sunny tomorrow, I'll see what I can do with it outside, and maybe make them a little more professional looking.


Belleville , IL(Zone 6b)

I have a scanner and I just lay the seeds on the scanner with a piece of paper behind them sometimes.
Do you have a scanner? If so, just don't foget to remove them when you are finished. I did some of the hibiscus seed and later in the week my husband handed them to me. I had completely forgotten them. LOL

Shepherd, TX(Zone 8b)

I have a scanner, but the problem is with the lighting--it's just too bright, and my photo editors can't tone down the whiteness without graying out the whole photo. Natural light will work better, I think.

Shepherd, TX(Zone 8b)

I thought I'd bump this up since there seems to be a need for this again...

Corpus Christi, TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks for the information. A couple of pictures is sure worth a whole lot of words...Barb

Netcong, NJ(Zone 5b)

Good info Queeny...I'd like to mention a couple additional facts to add to the apple cart and sharpen the focus a bit...;

1) Ipomoea tricolor cultivars "Blue Star" and "Flying Saucers" have both light and dark seeded forms.
When I grew I.tricolor "Summer Skies" in the early-mid 70's,I only saw it in a light colored seed form

2) There are large seeded forms of Ipomoea purpurea that can mimic Ipomoea nil,and there are some small
seeded forms of Ipomoea nil that can mimic Ipomoea purpurea,although these are more the exception than
the general rule as of this point in time...

Shepherd, TX(Zone 8b)

Thank you, duly noted...

I have had some I. nil seeds come out pretty small before, and some of my I. purpurea seeds were larger than expected, but like you said, that's more the exception than the rule.

Jones Creek, TX(Zone 9a)

It is so good to hear from you on the fourms Ron, thanks for the information....
with all the research you do we could beifit from your knowledge. We are looking forward to hearing from you again...
Best Wishes


Toronto, ON(Zone 5b)

I was just taking pictures of the seeds I've received from many trades today..I know this is an old forum but I think I'll just post here so there won't be as much confusion.

QueenB with regards to your entry and pic: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/fp.php?pid=1279977
I will be sowing seeds soon and will see if those with a "darker streak" along the ridge do produce variegated seeds. The picture below illustrates 3 seeds that have this characteristic. I took a picture with an old cam corder, so sorry for the quality you guys =/. The streaks are a tad faint, but I was able to get a close-up of it. The streak is very prominent on the last seed to the right.

Thumbnail by evr
Toronto, ON(Zone 5b)

According to this website http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http://mg.biology.kyushu-u.ac.jp/&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&sl=ja&tl=en There are more than 3 types of genotypes that contribute to seed colour in Ipomoea. (NOTE: We're just talking about COLOUR of the seed coat, this does not include the velvelt allele and others). They are (NOT listed according to variants of shades):

ca ca (ca-white)
cai cai (ivory; i's are superscripted, DG won't allow me to use html superscript)
bf bf (buff)
cn cn (chestnut)
coa coa (cocoa)
ch ch (chocolate)
br br (brown)

Genotype - DNA info/combo of alleles (ex. br br)
Phenotype - Physical traits; what you actually see

IF the list are a list of homozygous genotype, then wouldn't it mean that there will be atleast 7 types of seed colours and 7^7 genotypes/Allele combinations? But so far, it's even hard to distinguish those light brown seeds to the darker ones...Do I even make sense?? lol

Please do remember that this was translated and the translation could be off..

Toronto, ON(Zone 5b)

lol sorry my math is wrong - genotypic combos are off...it's not 7^7...I've forgoten my bio =( it's less than that

This message was edited Oct 16, 2008 11:52 PM

evr using your punnet square on the other post i got it to 111 genotypes... if ca and ca^i are alleles, then i presume there are three states for them(caca/caca^i/ca^ica^i)... am i getting this right? (i've used ^ to indicate superscript 'cos i've seen that done before)


This message was edited Oct 17, 2008 5:51 PM

Toronto, ON(Zone 5b)

okay Colin, will edit and use ^ (I never thought of that lol) Thanks.

I just remembered in bio we count Brbr and brBr as two separate entities because if you look at the punnet square, the filial genotype written vertically (bolded on my other post/image) came from the "male" while the filial GENOTYPE situated horizontally on the top row came from the mom.

I pressume there's less than 7^7 PHENOTYPES though, so your three states as mentioned above are right. I hope you understand me lol I can get confusing at times.

PS: Thank you Colin for reading my blob of stuff lol.

evr i wouldn't use the word "understand" but this stuff interests me so i enjoyed reading your blob :-)... thanks

do you know anything about transposons... i think they are bits of dna with a life of their own that up and move about occasionally... and that this 'moved' state can be transmitted to the next generation (or the next one even?)?

Toronto, ON(Zone 5b)

I've heard about them, but not fully read them. We touched upon that subject in my first year bio in university but not so detailed though. There are very interesting studies on transposons =).

Netcong, NJ(Zone 5b)

evr - You mentioned:

"old forum"

This is an older thread on the MG Forum...

"There are more than 3 types of genotypes that contribute to seed colour in Ipomoea."

The listing refers to categorically to Ipomoea nil and not to all species within the genus of Ipomoea...

Thanks for your posts...


Toronto, ON(Zone 5b)

sorry for the mix up vs thread and forum Ron. I wasn't actually sure which species they were talking about on the website, because they were also talking about other Ipomoeas such as hederifolia and tricolor. Translation might be off too. Ron, would you happen to know how to distinguish between seed colours of I. nil (aside from the normal "light" "brown" and "black" coloured-seeds)?

Also, today as I was setting up my halide lights and just writting some info re: seed colours of an unknown mix of I. nil, I noticed that the lighter coloured-seed coats got swollen much faster than the darker ones (they also "cracked earlier" than the darker coloured ones) when soaked in water. Still have to check/investigate this out with a really "light" coloured seed vs. a "black" coloured seed

Netcong, NJ(Zone 5b)

You asked
"Ron, would you happen to know how to distinguish between seed colours of I. nil (aside from the normal "light" "brown" and "black" coloured-seeds)?"

You posted the examples listed below:

ca ca (ca-white)
cai cai (ivory; i's are superscripted, DG won't allow me to use html superscript)
bf bf (buff)
cn cn (chestnut)
coa coa (cocoa)
ch ch (chocolate)
br br (brown)

I think that unless someone who can do DNA analysis of the seedcoats posts very clear accurate colors of the actual seeds,that distinguishing between the different seedcoat colors is necessarily relegated to Guesstimate...since I don't think that words alone would do seedcoat differentiation justice...

There are potentially additional 'environmental' seedcoat color modifiers such as nutritional status,metabolic status,temperatures and humidity (et al etc) during ripening all factor in to alter the seedcoat color to some degree,so unless something close to definitive examples of the color ranges were posted for reference...it will be 'difficult' to 'nail' down the seedcoat colors...

Toronto, ON(Zone 5b)

okay, a bit of update on seed coat colour on I. nils

I found Imai's article on Gene list on a genetics journal, nicely translated compared to google's translation on Kyushu's list which I found very hard to understand/decipher.

Source: Imai, Y (1937). The Genes of the Japanese Morning Glory. The Japanese Journal of Genetics (14) pp. 24-33.
See thread http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/925342/

on Page 25.

The order of intensity of seed colour: black (normal), chocolate, cocoa, brown, chestnut, buff, ivory, white.

It sounds like he's describing the phenotype (actual characteristics).
We can examine I. nil seeds if one has a lot of them and group them according to their colour. Another thing I noticed is that when you just lightly spray the seed, it changes colour/shade, sometimes they have dusty particles covering them making them a bit whitter/powdery. So perhaps we can compare seeds by spritzing them with a bit of water? This way I noticed that there were two types of brown: a tea-coloured brown and a yellowish brown (not buff or ivory) aside from the really really really dark ones that almost look like black.

So a simple example of experiment design would be to group these seeds according to their colour intensity and not name them yet with the actual colour. Sow them under similar conditions and a controlled environment (same soil, same lighting, same size pot, same amount of watering, same location) and wait for them to bloom and produce many seed pods.

From the seed pods produce, we can collect seeds and see what the "average" colour of seeds are (the colour that occupies the most of the population). Do some standard deviation calculations and plug in some equations to see if there are big gaps in the results/test for accuracy. It sounds easy and simple (simple compared to correlational studies and others) but it needs a bit of tidying up.


This message was edited Nov 19, 2008 9:09 AM

Post a Reply to this Thread

You must log in and subscribe to Dave's Garden to post in this thread.