Leaves simple, deeply palmately 7-lobed but not compound, margins sinuate-dentate; sepals much enlarged in fruit; flowers not borne in umbels; corolla white with a purple throat (although Austin refers to it as red); fruiting calyx ca. 5 cm wide. Occurs in disturbed sites. Flowers in spring through fall. (Wunderlin and Hansen, 2011).
“Dan Austin is considered an authority on the Convolvulaceae, and he is preparing the treatment for the genus Merremia for the Flora of North America. …he published an article in Economic Botany (Volume 61, No. 2, Summer 2007), which specifically addresses the issue of the nativity of this species and argues rather convincingly that it should probably be regarded as native to Florida, since it appears to be native to the entire circum-Caribbean region and was found in multiple undisturbed locations in Florida by both Bartram and Michaux as early as 1773-1774.
Although the most recently published (2011) edition of the Guide to the Vascular Plants of Florida lists this species as exotic (native to Tropical America but not Florida), the online version of the guide (The Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants) now lists this species as native. Presumably, the Atlas folks are following Austin’s assessment as published in Economic Botany. The USDA GRIN and PLANTS databases, again presumably following Austin, also list this species as native (at least in Florida and Texas).
If it is indeed regarded as native, there is still no doubt that Merremia dissecta is weedy and may not be appropriate for small residential or commercial landscapes.” (Marc Frank, personal communication)
Also according to Austin, the species “is considered a condiment, medicine, and an ornamental climber. These various uses date from at least the 1800s.” It is associated with an almond flavor, is used to enhance food taste, and in medicines.
Austin, D.F. Merremia dissecta (Convolvulaceae): Condiment, Medicine, Ornamental, and Weed—A Review. Economic Botany 61(2):109-120. 2007.
Frank, M.S., Botanist, Division of Plant Industry, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Marc.Frank@FreshFromFlorida.com (Personal communication, April 30, 2015)
Wunderlin, R.P. and Hansen, B.E. Guide to the Vascular Plants of Florida. 3rd Ed. University Press of Florida, 2011. P. 393
View the herbarium specimen image from the University of Florida Herbarium Digital Imaging Projects.