Beach Morning Glory (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is a tropical evergreen shrub or small tree with a spreading habit that grows up to 30 feet tall and wide. It is native to the Pacific Ocean from Mexico to Hawaii. Its common name refers to its pale green coloration which resembles the sea surface at sunrise.
The leaves are opposite, 1/4 inch long and elliptical. They have five leaflets each arranged in a fan shape. The flowers are white, 5mm across and grow only on the undersides of the leaves. There is no scent associated with them; they smell like sandalwood or camphor.
They flower most profusely during late summer through early fall when their petals open and release fragrant nectar that attracts bees to pollinate it.
It is not uncommon for beach morning glories to bloom together with other species such as Hawaiian honeysuckle (Asclepias curcas). Some varieties may even form a dense carpet along beaches.
When grown in full sun, the flowers will produce clusters of yellowish purple berries that taste similar to strawberries. When grown in partial shade, the flowers will produce smaller bunches of red berries that taste like blackberries.
Beach morning glory is a good ornamental plant for small gardens and can be grown along an ocean-facing wall. It prefers fertile, damp soil with medium to high drainage and a semi-shaded spot in full sun. It requires moderate watering. As it does not tolerate root disturbance well it is best to plant it directly into the ground when transplanting it.
A light sand:loam soil mixture with humus added is preferred but it will grow in other types of soils.
Mulching is beneficial.
It can be propagated by seeds, root division or stem cuttings.
Beach morning glory has few insect or disease problems. Scale insects may be a problem if the plant is growing in a location that is too hot and dry. Slugs may be a problem if there is no competition from other plants nearby.
It may be susceptible to root rot if the soil it is growing in stays damp for long periods of time.
It may become a weed itself if allowed to grow naturally and spread out of the planting area. This can be prevented by mowing or pulling out seedlings before they flower and set seed.
Mature specimens can be cut back hard every three or four years to maintain a manageable size.
The wood from this plant can be used as a fuel substitute. Its flowers attract bees and the berries are eaten by birds.
The genus name, Pseudotsuga, means false hemlock. The species name, menziesii, is in honor of Archibald Menzies, a Scottish botanist and friend of the plants discoverer, Archibald Douglas.
Beach morning glory can be grown from seed.
The seeds need to be scarified (which means scratching or nicking the hard outer coating of the seed to allow for water absorption) before they can be germinated.
Treat the seeds with a 11% hydrogen peroxide solution for 10 minutes, rinse them off in water and then soak them in water for 24 hours before planting them. The best germination temperature is 21C (70F).
The seedlings should be grown in a well-draining soil. Transplanting should be done as soon as the roots appear through the bottom of the pot. The plants require a lot of water and a sunny to partially shaded location.
Beach morning glory has several other names including: California coffee bean, West Coast false hemlock, California truffle, Pacific false hemlock and Western false hemlock.
It is a member of the Pinaceae family and the Pinus subgenus.
Beach morning glory is found only in the Pacific north west area of North America. It can be found at elevations ranging from sea level to 3100 meters (10,200 feet). It prefers to live in woodlands, forests, coastal scrub and chaparral.
It can be found from southern British Columbia in Canada south along the coast and interior of Oregon, Washington and California.
The wood from this plant is not very strong and it has been used to a limited degree as railroad ties. Lodgepole pines are preferred as they have a stronger wood.
The foliage and seeds of beach morning glory are eaten by deer, elk, rodents and birds. It is the only known food of the rare Furbold pug.
The flowers are used in dried flower arrangements.
They have a long history of being used in Native American basketweaving. They are very brightly colored and durable.
The wood is very soft and has been used to a limited degree as a fuel substitute. Lodgepole pine is preferred as it burns longer and produces more heat.
This plant has several medical uses:
The bright yellow flowers can be preserved with honey and eaten as a cough medicine.
Sources & references used in this article:
Phylogenetic and chemotypic diversity of Periglandula species in eight new morning glory hosts (Convolvulaceae) by WT Beaulieu, DG Panaccione, KL Ryan… – Mycologia, 2015 – Taylor & Francis
The case of hallucinogenic plants and the Internet by MM Micke – Journal of school health, 1996 – Wiley Online Library
Teaching of Meiosis and Mitosis in Schools of Developing Countries: How to Improve Education with a Plant Reproduction Project by E Duarte-Silva, A Silvério, AMHD Silva – Meiosis, 2013 – books.google.com