Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Beach Morning-glory - Ipomoea imperati   (Vahl) Grisebach
Members of Convolvulaceae:
Members of Ipomoea with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Solanales » Family Convolvulaceae
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Author(Vahl) Grisebach
DistributionScattered along the immediate coast of barrier islands, north to Dare County. There are collections only from Brunswick County, but sightings from New Hanover, Onslow, Carteret, and Hyde counties -- perhaps as no permits were held by observers for collecting plants on Federal or State lands? There is a photo on iNaturalist from Dare County, probably the southern portion of Hatteras Island.

This is a coastal/beach species in the South, ranging north to eastern NC, and south to southern FL and west to TX -- as well as much farther south.
AbundanceRare along the coast to Carteret County, and very rare to Dare County. This is a State Special Concern species. Individual populations are typically small, but in 2021 there were "thousands" of runners and flowers at Shackleford Banks, covering a mile-long stretch (Fussell pers. obs.). In 2021 Bob Peet observed "healthy populations" at Sunset Beach (Brunswick County). As a result of a number of more recent records in 2021 and 2022 -- many on iNaturalist -- the NCNHP moved the state Rank from a precarious S1 to a less rare S2S3.
HabitatIn NC, the species is strictly found along the upper beach, in dunes, or in sandy areas behind dunes. The Shackleford Banks population occurs in low foredunes, extending into interdunes.
PhenologyBlooms from late June to October, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a trailing herbaceous vine, growing to 8-10 feet or more, with leathery and shiny alternate leaves. Each leaf is at times oddly shaped; it is small for a morning-glory, only about 1.5-2 inches long. Many plants have unlobed leaves, wih the shape roughly rectangular, with a strong crease down the middle; other plants have leaves that are oddly 3-5 lobed, with each lobe rounded, the middle one the largest and usually narrowed at the base. The plant roots at some nodes, and from some leaf axils grow a single rather large white flower, with a yellow center (deep in the corolla tube), funnel-shaped and about 2 inches long and across, a bit smaller than most other species in the genus. The other white, beach-growing morning-glory -- I. macrorhiza -- has the flower mostly tubular, with a flaring distal end, rather than gradually open like a funnel. Also, its flowers have a purple center, and its large leaves are roughly triangular, thin and not fleshy, wrinkled, and serrated on the margins.
Taxonomic CommentsThis species was formerly named as I. stolonifera.

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS2S3
Global RankG5
State StatusSC-V
US Status
USACE-agcpFACU link
USACE-empFACU link
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Alexander KringsHyde County, 2012, same data. HydeBIPhoto_natural
Alexander KringsHyde County, 2012, Ocracoke Island. HydeBIPhoto_natural
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