Okay, I know I’ve had a small picture of this plant up for a while, but you can’t appreciate the tissuey texture of the petals in a small picture. So click on this one! If you love flowers, have a bit of space, and can tolerate a certain amount of disorder in your garden, you may have been waiting for this native vine and you just didn’t know it. Not woody, but herbaceous, the stems can still reach lengths of…well 20’ or so and usually grow along the ground though, on flowering, the ends sometimes turn up a foot or two. Siting is important! If there is a downside to this plant it clearly is the amount of space you need to grow it.
The common names are interesting; “Wild Potato Vine”, obviously because it’s a vine and grows from a tuber. “Man of the Earth”, you’re on your own here, though I would observe that the elongate underground organ gets quite large (≤20” long) , and heavy; according to multiple sources, old tubers can approach 30 pounds. Perhaps “Elephant of the Earth”… Never mind. You can see it flowering now in the Fern Valley Meadow just outside the construction area, and even if you’re not going to grow it, it’s well worth looking at.