You are here

Cypress Vine

Cypress Vine

Common Name: Cypress Vine[1]

Scientific Name: Ipomoea quamoclit (syn. Quamoclit pennata)

Thomas Jefferson was the first person to cite this plant in America.[2] 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."[3]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.

Primary Source References[4]

1791 January 16. (Martha Jefferson Randolph to Jefferson). "I am extremely obliged to you for the cypress vine which with a bundle of seeds I found in rumaging up some drawer in the chamber...'[5]

1807 November 9. (Ann Cary Randolph Bankhead to Jefferson). "Mrs. Lewis has promised me some seed of the Cypress vine..."[6]

1808 January 22. (Ann Cary Randolph Bankhead to Jefferson). "I was at Mrs. Lewis's on my way from the North Garden she told me she had saved some of the seed of the Cypress vine for you..."[7]


  1. This section is based on a Center for Historic Plant Information Sheet.
  2. Denise Wiles Adams, Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940 (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc., 2004), 144.
  3. Lawrence D. Griffith, Flowers and Herbs of Early America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008), 48. For Jefferson letters, see Betts, Garden Book, 155 and 161. See also Edwin M. Betts, Hazlehurst Bolton Perkins, and Peter J. Hatch. Thomas Jefferson's Flower Garden at Monticello, 3rd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986), 63-64.
  4. Please note that this list should not be considered comprehensive.
  5. PTJ, 18:500.
  6. Betts, Garden Book, 353.
  7. Ibid, 363.

Further Sources


Login or register to participate in our online community.