Field observations of morningglory (Ipomoea spp.) showed that many plants grew out from places of comparable competitive advantage (alleys in field experiments with little or no vegetation) into neighboring plants or structures that provided climbing support. Of 223 native morningglory plants growing in rows and row middles in a 121-m2 area within established corn research plots that contained no other weeds, 68% of the mature plants climbed up corn. More significant, of the 152 climbing morningglory plants, 96% grew toward and climbed the row in its closest proximity instead of growing across the row middle. Greenhouse and field experiments were initiated to determine whether morningglory grew preferentially toward certain colored structures or corn plants. Greenhouse-grown ivyleaf morningglory displayed varying frequency in locating and climbing toward black (17%), blue (58%), red (58%), white (67%), green (75%), and yellow (75%) stakes or corn (92%). Pots containing black stakes had the fewest climbing morningglory plants. In the field study, fewer ivyleaf morningglories climbed black structures compared with white- or green-colored structures or corn. The morningglory initial planting distance from colored structures or corn was also significant in the percentage of ivyleaf morningglories that exhibited climbing growth and in its final weight; morningglories that successfully located and climbed structures or corn weighed more and produced more seed than morningglories that remained on the ground. Ivyleaf morningglory appears to respond to spatial distribution of surrounding objects and possibly uses reflectance to preferentially project its stems toward a likely prospective structure for climbing.
Nomenclature: Ivyleaf morningglory, Ipomoea hederacea (L.) Jacq. IPOHE; corn, Zea mays L.