The Panama Canal Review - September 4, 1959
The Isthmus of Panama and the 50th State of the United States of America, Hawaii, have a unique horticultural kinship through Ipomoea Tuberosa, more familiarly known as the woodrose, or Tivoli rose.
Originally from Hawaii, the woodrose thrives in Panama. But while the Hawaiians started using Ipomoea Tuberosa long ago for its decorative aspects, it is only in recent years that the rose that is not a rose has come into its own on the Isthmus. For the woodrose, as a flower, is not what is used in flower arrangements. Rather it is the seed pod which graces a lovely shoulder in a corsage, or becomes a centerpiece for a dinner table.
So little is actually known about the woodrose that the Canal Zone Library had to appeal to W.R. Lindsay, Panama Canal Agronomist, for information about the comparative newcomer to the corsage and centerpiece ranks.
The plant, which is related to the morning glory, is a large climbing vine. The flowers, a beautiful yellow, are about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. They grow in clusters and bloom the latter part of the rainy season. After the flower is pollinated and drops from the vine, the seed pod forms. When this change takes place, one week in November, thousands of little, chartreuse-colored, water-filled balloons seem to cover the vines. In December, with a change in the air, the seed pods begin to lose their water. The drying process usually is completed by the second week in December.
The woodrose corsage made its debut here about seven years ago when Mrs. Pat Morgan of Morgan's Gardens cast about for "something different" to give each member of one of her graduating flower arrangement classes. Woodrose vines growing in a nearby field attracted her attention and she began cutting and experimenting with a few dried seed pods. On graduation night each member of that class proudly wore a woodrose corsage, and a new trend was started. Mrs. Morgan also pioneered in the woodrose arrangement field here, when she realized their interesting possibilities. The seed pods, properly dried and freshly picked, are sturdy, can be sprayed, and " can take a lot of abuse."
Woodroses can be grown from seed. Each pod holds about four seeds. The flowers are produced about two years after the seeds are planted. Much of their sturdiness depends on the weather, for woodroses like a great amount of rain. They will not thrive during a dry rainy season, but once the rains come will take over an entire arbor. Besides its use in corsages and for decorative effects, little boys find Ipomoea Tuberosa pops most satisfactorily and they always seem to know when it's woodrose popping time.
December 20, 1998