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Ipomoea aquatica


Ipomoea aquatica Forssk.

Family Name: Convolvulaceae
Synonyms: Ipomoea reptans
Common Name: Kangkong, Kang Kong, Swamp Cabbage, Swamp Morning-glory, Water Morning Glory, Water Spinach, Chinese Water-spinach, Water Bindweed, Water Convolvulus, 蕹菜, 空心菜


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Creeper, Herbaceous Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 21 m


Native Distribution China
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Riverine)
Preferred Climate Zone Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Semi-aquatic, perennial herbaceous creeping vine growing up to 3 m long.
Foliage Leaves smooth and shaped like an arrowhead. Leaf blade is approximately 5 - 15 cm long and 2 - 6 cm wide, while the petiole is about 3 - 14 cm long. Leaves simple and alternate. In water, leaves are held above water.   
Stems Hollow, containing a milky sap.
Flowers Funnel-shaped, bisexual flowers (5 cm wide, 4 – 10 cm long) occur either singly or in small clusters near the leaf axils (area between the petiole and stem). Flowers may be white or pink to light purple.
Fruit Round or oval-shaped capsule (1 cm in diameter) holding 1 - 4 seeds. Capsule becomes woody and brown at maturity. Seeds vary in color from gray, brown to black. Each plant produces about 175 - 245 seeds.
Others - Plant Morphology Caution:  The plants accumulate heavy metals when planted in polluted water, posing a risk to people and animals that consume them.
Habitat Occurs in swamps, lakes, stream banks, and bogs. Considered an invasive weed in the USA and the Philippines because it rapidly covers the surface of bodies of water, reducing light availability for other aquatic life, such as phytoplankton.
Cultivation Grows best in warm, humid environments. Tolerant of waterlogged soils. Propagate by seed or stem cutting. Stems easily root at the nodes.
Etymology The species epithet “aquatica” means water and refers to the plant’s ability to grow in water.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Leaves, Edible Stems
Food (Fruit or Vegetable): Widely consumed in South East Asia as a leafy vegetable and is especially popular in Vietnam. Stems and leaves are often stir-fried. However, the leaves may also be eaten raw, such as in salads. The leaves are rich in iron.
Medicinal: An aqueous leaf extract helped to reduce blood sugar in diabetic patients. The plant is also used in traditional medicine.
Others: The plant is also fed to pigs and cattle.

Landscaping Features

Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Abiotic (Self-Pollinated), Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee), Insects (Butterfly, Moth))

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Rootzone Tolerance Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site)
Maintenance Requirements Low
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting
Seed / Spore Germination Duration 3 days


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Linear, Sagittate)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Truncate / Square, Sagittate, Hastate
Typical Foliar Area Notophyll ( 20.25cm2 - 45 cm2 )

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Hollow
Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) White
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Funnelform / Funnel-shaped
Flower Size - Remarks 5 cm wide, 4 – 10 cm long
Inflorescence Type Cyme
Ovary Position Superior / Hypogynous
Flowering Opening Time Daytime

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Dehiscent Dry Fruit , Capsule

Image Repository



Master ID 126
Species ID 1422
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 20 April 2022.