Wolfe's comments from the Introduction to Storeys from the Old Hotel

"Similarly [to 'Checking out'], 'Morning-Glory' was written for Anne McCaffrey, who was editing a book of stories with university backgrounds."


Smythe, a behavioural botanist, recounts to his psychoanalyst a dream in which he is a vine trapped behind a translucent wall. He says that he once chewed morning-glory seeds, a purported hallucinogen. Back in his lab, he explains to a student that his work involves training vines to navigate mazes using panels of differing opacity. He shows her a morning-glory whose seeds were experimentally "blinded" by radiation, such that it cannot navigate in this way. The student draws an anology to irradiated turtles which forget to return to the ocean after laying eggs. He has another vine / maze dream, and decides to recruit a graduate student to help research into providing therapy to a radiation-damaged plant instinct, with hoped-for applicability to wider damaged societies.


  • Smythe is referred to as Schmidt by his therapist, who believes him to be of German descent -- although in fact Smythe's father was an American who happened to grow up in post-War Germany. "Smith" in general means "maker".
  • Nuclear radiation is mentioned at several points in the story. It seems Smythe believes, or at least hopes, that by "healing" the morning-glory vine, it may be possible to "heal" a polluted world and damaged global society. We are led to suspect that Smythe has developed some sort of psychic empathy with the vine, hence his dreams and the reference in the last sentence to "the green fingers of Smythe's mind". This may be as a result of his chewing the morning-glory seeds, although that seems a little crudely mechanistic and 1940s-SF-ish for Wolfe.

Unresolved Questions

< Checking Out | Storeys from the Old Hotel | Trip, Trap >