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In the Highways, In the Hedges: Man of the Earth

Ipomoea pandurata at Lake Alma

The Wild Potato, aka Man of the Earth, is having its moment on our roadsides right exactly now. These large, gorgeous white flowers with deep purple hearts are everywhere, and are a welcome addition to our summer landscape. Catching them out of the corner of your eye as you zip past, you might think these are Morning Glories, and you're right. Ipomoea pandurata is a member of the family Convolvulaceae (convolvere means "to wind"), which includes the Morning Glory and the Hawaiian Moonflower, among others.

While referred to as both Wild Potato and Wild Sweet Potato, you won't be mashing these roots. They are bitter even when cooked, and a purgative if eaten raw. We've got a native on our hands here - you can find these all over the eastern United States, and the plant occurs statewide in Arkansas.

Pistil and anthers extend beyond the throat of the flower.