Native Ipomoea species such as I. costata, I. abrupta and I. polpha have a long history of traditional use by Aboriginal peoples of central and northern Australia as a food source. Ipomoea costata is the Desert Potato (though it is not related to potatoes, but to sweet potatoes) that is still important in Central Australia today; it produces large ‘yams’ or tubers that are dug up, roasted and eaten. Ipomoea abrupta produces smaller yams but is eaten the same as I. costata.
We have both species growing in our nursery and they were deliberately crossed in summer 2014 when both species flower. I costata flowers open at dusk and fade away mid morning. I abrupta flowers open at dawn and fade away late afternoon. Several crosses were performed with each species as both pisstillate and staminate parent. More successful crosses were produced on I. abrupta as pistillate parent. Seeds were raised as normal and 4 individuals were raised, three I. abrupta x I. costata seedlings and one I. costata x I. abrupta seedling.
Below are pictures of first season flowers of one I. abrupta x I. costata individual which shows a blend of flower colours of the two species. Flowers open at dusk and there has been no detectable pollen dehisced when checked early morning. Tubers have yet to be assessed. Further info to come.