Thomas Jefferson was the first person to cite this plant in America. He sent seed from Philadelphia to his two daughters at Monticello in 1791, and it was planted in pots and perhaps intended as a green house plant due to its "abhorrence of cold."This attractive member of the morning glory family, native to tropical America, and noted in Italy in the 1500s, was known among 18th century Virginia gardeners. Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon offered seed for sale in 1804, calling it "Wing'd leaved Ipomoea."
The true cypress vine is often confused with a related species, cardinal climber (Ipomoea coccinea), which does not have the distinctive lacy foliage. Cypress is a summer-flowering, annual vine with slender, bright scarlet, star-shaped flowers and delicate, lacy, deep green foliage.