Ipomoea arborescens, commonly referred to as the tree morning glory, belongs to the same genus as the frequent morning glory vine (Ipomoea violacea) and also has flowers which are alike in form and habit to those of the vine. Specially adapted for dry environments, the tree is just a Mexican native which may make a solid statement as a specimen plant.
The tree morning glory can reach 30 feet tall with a spread of around 24 feet, making it an superb choice as a specimen tree in a spot where it can be a strong focus. The tree contains broad, oval green leaves around 3 inches long and a light gray trunk with a whitish look when viewed from a distance. It typically develops only a couple of semi-succulent main trunks, using a spreading canopy of branches, giving the tree a overall vase-shaped look.
The tree morning glory also makes a good addition to a group of blooming trees. It typically drops its leaves in the end of summer, then flowers from November through March, pulling flowers for winter. The tree produces an abundance of 2-inch-wide, white- or cream-colored blooms with yellow or red centres. Its flowers attract hummingbirds and bees, and they look prior to the spring harvest of fresh leaves, making an impressive display of blooms along its bare branches. Flowering is followed with large, flat brown seed pods that turn papery and brittle before falling. The seeds are toxic and should not be eaten.
Tree glories are indigenous to arid, chaparral regions in northwestern Mexico and can perform exceptionally well in dry environments. They’re particularly useful planted in a group of trees spaced about 20 feet apart on a hillside, where their winter flowers are able to make a lovely display. As an additional bonus, their fallen petals are a natural food which can attract wildlife, like deer. They mix well with other desert plants like medium-sized cacti and other succulents. Tree glory is a fast-grower, adding several feet to its peak each year until maturity.
Tree morning glory does best in full sun and requires very little moisture, doing well in most soils, whether neutral, slightly alkaline or slightly acidic. As a pure desert dweller, the tree tolerates high temperatures well. It is fairly susceptible to cold, cannot tolerate frost and can be best suited to U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 10 and over. It might survive in warmer portions of USDA zone 9, particularly if planted in a warm, sheltered spot, like near the south-facing side of a building.