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Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.

Family Name: Convolvulaceae
Synonyms: Aniseia edulis, Batatas edulis, Aniseia batatas
Common Name: Sweet Potato, Keledek, 番薯

Sweet Potato is a fast-growing vine that produces edible, nutritious tubers in about 2 months in the tropics or 3-4 months in subtropical or temperate climates. The leaves and shoots are also nutritious and often stir-fried or added to salads.

Full Sun Moderate Water Fruit or Vegetable Ornamental Leaves Drought Tolerant Climber, Vine and Liana Creeper


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Climber, Vine & Liana, Creeper
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic


Native Distribution Tropical America
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal, Temperate

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Perennial vine with a creeping habit.
Roots The root system of I. batatas is fibrous with adventitious roots, some of which undergo secondary thickening to form enlarged tuberous roots, which serve as storage organs. These storage roots, what we commonly know as sweet potatoes, are variable in shape, size, number, skin colour, ranging from white to yellow to brown to orange and purple, and flesh colour, including white, yellow, orange and purple.
Foliage Leaves green, with some varieties having yellowish or purplish leaves. Leaf shape ranges from ovate-cordate to palmate depending on the variety. Leaves are spirally arranged on stems and borne on long petioles. Leaf margin entire or palmately lobed.
Stems Stems prostrate or ascending, slender and occasionally twining, up to 4 m long, and producing a milky juice. Many lateral stems arise from each main stem.
Flowers Flowers white or purplish, funnel-shaped and axillary, borne singly or in inflorescences, known as cymes (= flat-topped inflorescences with central flowers that open first).
Fruits Fruit a 5-8 mm long capsule containing 1-4 seeds, which are black with very hard seed coats.
Cultivation Sun-loving, although tolerant of semi-shade conditions, and water-loving, with growth impaired by low water supply. However, I. batatas is also drought-tolerant for short periods. I. batatas can grown on a wide range of soils, including moderately deep, very friable fine sandy loams, sandy loams, or loamy fine sands. A well-drained sandy loam with a clayey subsoil is considered ideal. Intolerant of waterlogging. Gentle slopes are preferred, with little tendency for erosion. I. batatas competes poorly with weeds, the latter reducing crop yields and interfering with harvesting. Propagation of I. batatas may be carried out vegetatively from stem cuttings or using sprouts obtained from cuttings of storage roots. Propagation by seed is also possible, but usually only for breeding purposes. From sowing to harvest, it takes 120 days or more.
Etymology The genus name, Ipomoea, is Greek for "worm-resembling", referring to the sinuous twining stems of the plant, while the specific epithet, batatas, is derived from the Haitian name, batata, for sweet potato.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves, Edible Storage Organs)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : In Singapore, as well as other parts of Southeast Asia, tender leaves are stir-fried with sambal belacan (spicy shrimp paste). The tubers are also boiled to make a sweet soup, fried to make French fries and stewed to make porridge.)
[Others]: Food: I. batatas is mainly cultivated for its storage roots, which are consumed mainly as a vegetable in tropical countries. The tubers may be eaten in numerous ways, such as boiled, baked, fried, made into flour for biscuits, bread and pastries, dehydrated to make chips or creamed for use in desserts. In Papua New Guinea and some countries in Oceania, I. batatas roots are a staple food. The tender leaves and young shoots of I. batatas, which are rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins, are also eaten as a green vegetables. Medicine: A decoction of the leaves of I. batatas are known to be used in folk remedies for tumors of the mouth and throat. The plant is also used for other ailments, including asthma, fever and nausea. Other Uses: Small portions of I. batatas crops are used as feed or for industrial purposes, including starch and alcohol production.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Dry Soils / Drought
Landscape Uses Container Planting
Usage Hazard - Cons Remarks Roots may contain the laxative, ipomoein.

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast to Moderate
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting, Root Cutting
Seed or Spore Germination Duration From 6
Seed or Spore Germination Duration To 15
Seed or Spore Germination Duration Unit Days


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green, Purple, Yellow / Golden
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Spiral
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate, Palmate, Cordate)
Foliar Venation Palmate
Foliar Margin Entire, Palmately Lobed
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Herbaceous
Root Type Underground (Fibrous Root)
Specialised Storage Organ(s) Underground (Root Tuber)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Purple, White

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Capsule

Image Repository



Master ID 127
Species ID 1423
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: 06 May 2022.