The morning glory and Hawaiian baby woodrose are both members of the same plant family and are close cousins. They are both attractive flowering vines, native to the tropics but now widespread. Both plants produce copious seeds, which can make them aggressive in tropical landscapes. The seeds of both plants contain LSA, a chemical compound related to the hallucinogen LSD.
The morning glory originated in the tropics and subtropics and is cultivated around the world for its funnel-shaped flowers. Most morning glories, including the familiar cultivated varieties, are vines, but some, like the bush morning glory, are small shrubs. All morning glories have the distinctive funnel-shaped flowers, occasionally with bi-colored petals. Their seeds have been dispersed by birds and by humans who have cultivated these plants for centuries.
The Hawaiian baby woodrose, a close relative of the morning glory, is native to India. It is a very large climbing vine with big, heart-shaped leaves. Both the stems and the leaf undersides are covered with white, velvety hairs. The plant produces masses of lavender, pink and white tube-shaped flowers, which are also covered with fine white down on their outsides. Hawaiian baby woodrose is now found throughout the tropics, because its seeds have been dispersed by birds, small mammals and humans.
Morning glory seeds are produced in cone-shaped capsules that burst open when dry. The individual seeds are generally smooth, pear-shaped and flattened on one side. They range from jet black to brown, or light tan, depending on variety. Morning glory seeds are about the same size as apple seeds.
Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds are about the size of a dried chick pea, and have a golden brown covering of fine hair. Four or fewer individual seeds are encased in the spherical center of a woody seed pod with reflexed woody petals, which look like a flower. When the pod fully dries, the seeds are released.
Morning glory seeds were used medicinally, and for religious purposes by Aztec, Mayan and other Mesoamerican peoples. They are still a favorite garden vine because of their brightly colored flowers.
Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds are used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India. The attractive dried pods are also used in dry flower arrangements and Hawaiian leis.
Both morning glory and Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds can be easily grown. Morning glory seeds will germinate faster if they are first nicked slightly, using the edge of a pair of toenail clippers, and then soaked overnight in tap water before sowing. They can be direct seeded into the garden in spring after frost. Sow seeds about 3 inches apart and 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep.
Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds should be soaked in tap water overnight, and then wrapped in a constantly wet paper towel on a small plate until a root begins to emerge. Plant the seeds 1 inch deep, in a 4-inch pot filled with potting mix, with the roots facing upward.
Both morning glory and Hawaiian baby woodrose seeds contain chemical compounds considered toxic to humans. The amount of morning glory seeds needed to produce a toxic reaction is generally quite high, making accidental poisoning unlikely. Hawaiian baby woodrose, however, contains chemical compounds thought to be many times stronger, thus it may be possible to be poisoned by just a few of the seeds. There are reports that intentional ingestion of the seeds of both these plants has produced a state of temporary psychosis in humans.