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Ipomoea aquatica - Forssk.

Common Name Kangkong, Swamp Morning Glory
Family Convolvulaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Accumulation of heavy metals in the plant has been reported in Asia, mainly because the plants are often grown in polluted water[299 ].
Habitats Moist, marshy or inundated localities, shallow pools, ditches, rice fields, forming dense masses[310 ]. Also found along roadsides at elevations from sea-level up to 1,000 metres[310 ].
Range Pantropical.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Wet Soil Water Plants Full sun
Ipomoea aquatica Kangkong, Swamp Morning Glory

Ipomoea aquatica Kangkong, Swamp Morning Glory


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Ipomoea aquatica or commonly known in various names such as but not limited to Swamp Morning Glory, Chinese Water Spinach, Swamp Cabbage, and Kangkong is a fast-growing, annual or perennial plant with sprawling stems of up to 2-3 m long over the ground, float in water, or twine into other plants for support. It is a very popular leaf vegetable in Asia. The leaves and young shoots are cooked or eaten raw. The roots are occasionally cooked and eaten as well. The young shoots have medicinal uses. It is mildly laxative and is used for diabetes and fever. The leaves, on the other hand, are crushed and applied as a poultice on sores and boils. Ringworm is treated using a paste made from the buds. The roots are used for arsenic poisoning and hemorrhoids.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Ipomoea aquatica is an evergreen Annual/Perennial growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender. The flowers are pollinated by Bees, Butterflies. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil and can grow in water.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Ipomoea reptans Poir.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Root  Shoots
Edible Uses:

Leaves and young shoots - raw or cooked[296 , 298 ]. The tasty leaves are produced all year round[296 ]. The youngest shoot tips can be added to salads, older leaves are cooked and make a mild-flavoured spinach[298 ]. The leaves can be stir-fried, steamed, boiled for a few minutes or lightly fried in oil and eaten in various dishes. They are often mixed with hot peppers and garlic and prepared with a savoury dish[299 ]. Very nutritious, the leaves are a good source of protein as well as providing good quantities of vitamin A, iron, calcium and phosphorus[298 ]. Roots - occasionally cooked and eaten[29 , 301 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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Antidote  Antihaemorrhoidal  Antitussive  Febrifuge  Hypoglycaemic  Laxative  Laxative  Poultice  
Skin  Tonic

The young shoots are mildly laxative and are used by diabetic patients[272 ]. A decoction of the leaves is used to treat coughs[272 ]. The fried leaves are eaten to cool down a fever[310 ]. The crushed leaves are applied as a poultice on sores and boils[310 , 348 ]. A paste made from the buds is used to treat ringworm[272 , 299 ]. The roots are laxative, tonic and antidote[310 ]. They are used in the treatment of opium or arsenic poisoning, and also to counter the effects of drinking unhealthy water[310 ]. A decoction of the roots is used as a wash against haemorrhoids[310 , 348 ]. The plant has shown oral hypoglycaemic activity in tests with diabetic humans; it was shown that an aqueous leaf extract can be as effective as tolbutamide in reducing blood glucose levels[299 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fodder  Soil reclamation

Used as an Animal Feed; Plants may be fed to livestock, pigs, ducks, and chickens. Ability to remove heavy metals. Field studies in the Makkasan Reservoir, Thailand revealed that maximum biomass per clump of I. aquatica was reached 8 weeks after sowing. The average absorption of N, P, K, Ca and Mg was 3.59, 0.54, 4.40, 0.86 and 0.20 (% dry weight). The average heavy metal absorption of Fe, Mn, Zn, Pb, Cu and Cd was 908.35, 202.36. 86.38, 31.48, 11.39 and 0.74 (µg/g dry weight). This plant may be useful in removing nitrates from contaminated water, such as farm drainage and municipal waste [1-8].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Swamp morning glory is a plant of the moist to wet, lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 15 - 35°c, but can tolerate 10 - 40°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,000 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 700 - 4,200mm[418 ]. Plants grow well in full sun[296 ]. A very easy plant to grow, it succeeds in bathtubs, ponds and still water[296 ]. Succeeds in a wide range of soils, including heavy clays[300 ]. Best leaf production comes from plants grown in soils rich in organic matter[298 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 7, tolerating 4.3 - 7.5[418 ]. The plant is widespread as a swamp weed in all tropical and many subtropical lowland areas. It is a declared aquatic or terrestrial noxious weed in the south-eastern United States[299 ]. A very fast-growing plant, it starts developing lateral branches from cotyledonary buds 2 - 3 weeks after sowing. Thereafter the main axis and both laterals each produce about one leaf every 2 - 3 days[298 , 299 ]. Cultivars selected for once-over harvest or uprooting have retarded branching or almost no branching. Their harvest takes place 21 - 30 days after sowing[296 , 299 ]. Cut and come again harvesting of vegetatively propagated plants or wild plants can start about one month after plant establishment[299 ]. Flowering commences after 2 - 5 months, but the plant continues to form new leaves and branches[299 ]. Swamp morning glory is a quantitative short-day plant, early flowering being induced by short days of less than 12 hours. Flowering is also stimulated by drought[299 ]. There are some named varieties[301 ]. Two main forms exist in cultivation:- A short-lived perennial form grows in very wet soils and water (it has been named Ipomoea aquatica aquatica by some authorities). This form can produce yields ofup to 90 tonnes per hectare in Thailand[300 ]. An annual creeping form tolerates drier conditions (this has been named Ipomoea aquatica reptans)[300 ]. Under dryland cultivation, yields per crop can range from 7 - 30 tonnes per hectare, averaging 20 tonnes. In theory one crop can be produced every month leading to a potential yield of around 240 tonnes per hectare in a year[299 ] produce. Annual production of I. aquatica ('water spinach') in Hong Kong has been estimated at 3-5 million kg. When grown as a crop, yields of up to 100,000 kg/ha have been reported in Hong Kong. Similar yields were reported in field trials in south Florida [1-8].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow in situ in moist to wet soil[300 ]. Only the annual form is usually propagated this way[300 ]. Germination rates of local cultivars are often low (less than 60%) because of hard-seededness induced by long storage. Reliable seed companies supply improved cultivars with a high (in excess of 80%) germination percentage. The seeds do not germinate well at temperatures lower than 25°c[299 ]. Cuttings of young shoots at any time of the year. The shoots readily produce roots, even whilst still on the parent plant[300 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Swamp Morning Glory, Chinese Water Spinach, Swamp Cabbage, Arkala, Bilebo, Bola-bola,Boong, Chidledelane, Demblamuna, Dine thamnunglai, Djambo, Engtsai, Ganthian, Itambeleta, Kalembula, Kalmi sag, Kalmi shak, Kalmi-sag, Kalmisak, Kalmua, Kangkung, Kankon, Karamta, Karembua, Kolamni, Kolom sak, Kolmou, Kolmow sak, Kozhuppa, Nadishaka, Nalanibhaji, Nali-ka-sag, Nali, Nari, Narini bhaji, Ong choy, Pak boong, Pak bung, Panbhaji, Patua-sag, Phak bung, Pond Morning Glory, Quelo, Rau muong che, Rau muong, Sarnali, Swamp Morning Glory, Tach, Tegada, Te kangkong, Trakuen, Tutikura, Ung tsai, Ung ts'oi, Vellaikeerai, Vellay keeray, Weng cai, cancon, chinese water-spinach, espinaca acuática, kalambhi, kangkong, karamuwan, karmi, liseron d'eau, patate aquatique, sallatsipomea, sumpfkohl, swamp cabbage, swamp morning-glory, wasserspinat, water spinach, water-convolvulus, yo-sai.

TEMPERATE ASIA: China. TROPICAL ASIA: Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, AUSTRALASIA: Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, Northern Territory, AFRICA: Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Chad, Kenya, Tanzania (incl. Pemba, Zanzibar), Uganda, Burundi, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Weed Damage. I. aquatica grows very rapidly and becomes a weed in some habitats. The long floating stems form a dense network across bodies of fresh water. This network supports leaves and flowers, which rise above the water surface and may impede water flow and navigation. I. aquatica is also a major broadleaved aquatic weed of dry-seeded wetland rice [1-8]. In Florida (USA), where the flat landscape permits sheet flow of water during periods of heavy rain, I. aquatica is considered a serious threat to flood control. The Florida Department of Natural Resources has eradicated over 20 small infestations of I. aquatica that escaped from illegal plantings. It is considered a significant threat to Florida's waterways and wetlands [1-8]. In natural settings, such as rivers and lakes, I. aquatica may outcompete native vegetation and limit the use of these waters [1-8]. Canals used for irrigation in the Sudan are conducive to the spread of aquatic weeds. Among the most prevalent species are Cyperus rotundus, I. aquatica and Panicum repens on canal banks, and Chara globularis, Najas pectinata, Ottelia alismoides and Potamogeton spp. anchored in the canal mud [1-8].

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Least Concern

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Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Ipomoea albaMoonflower, Tropical white morning-gloryPerennial Climber10.0 7-10 FLMNM210
Ipomoea batatasSweet Potato, Black Sweet Potato, Sweet Potato VinePerennial Climber3.0 10-12 FLMNM503
Ipomoea jalapaJalapClimber3.0 -  LMHSNM03 
Ipomoea leptophyllaBush Moon FlowerPerennial1.2 8-11  LMHNM321
Ipomoea nilJapanese Morning Glory, Whiteedge morning-gloryAnnual5.0 8-11 FLMHNM02 
Ipomoea pandurataWild Potato Vine, Man of the earthPerennial Climber3.5 6-9 FLMHNM322
Ipomoea purpureaCommon Morning Glory, Tall morning-gloryAnnual Climber2.5 6-9 FLMHNM020
Ipomoea sagittataSaltmarsh Morning Glory, Saltmarsh morning-glory 0.0 0-0  LMHSNM01 
Ipomoea tricolorMorning Glory, GrannyvinePerennial Climber5.0 10-11 FLMHNM01 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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