May 22, 2008

Sea morning glory

Truly a glory in the morning on the shore!
Sea morning glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae) according to Ivan Polunin, is the most important coloniser of many tropical beaches around the world. Its creeping rooting stems often form dense patches which hold down the sand and produce humus.
It belongs to the Family Convolvulaceae which includes the more commonly seen terrestrial morning glory, as well as our favourite vegetable 'Kang Kong' and sweet potato.
The leaves vary in shape, according to Hsuang Keng from oval to quadrangular to rounded. Sometimes they form two lobes that resembles a goat's or horse's hoof. The Malay name of the plant 'Tapak Kuda' means 'horse's footprint', while the scientific name 'pes-caprae' means 'goat's foot'.

According to Hsuan Keng, the flowers are usually reddish purple, rarely white.According to Wee Yeow Chin, the juice squeezed from the plant is used in Malaysia to treat fish stings. The leaves are used in Indonesia to hasten the bursting of boils; sap from the young leaves are boiled in coconut juice and used to treat sores and ulcers; and the seeds chewed with areca nut, soothe abdominal pains and cramps. In the Philippines, the boiled leaves are used to treat rheumatism. While Ivan Polunin records its use as a purgative in Malay medicine. Burkill includes the use of boiled tubers to relieve bladder problems as they have a diuretic effect.

According to Burkill, animals will eat the leaves but they will taint the milk of cows. The leaves are also fed to pigs.


Burkill, I. H., 1993. A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula. 3rd printing. Publication Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. Volume 1: 1-1240; volume 2: 1241-2444.

Hsuan Keng, S.C. Chin and H. T. W. Tan. 1990. The Concise Flora of Singapore: Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Singapore University Press. 222 pp.

Polunin, Ivan. 1987. Plants and Flowers of Singapore. Times Editions. 160pp

Tan, Leo W. H. & Ng, Peter K. L., 1988. A Guide to Seashore Life. The Singapore Science Centre. 160 pp. Online version

Wee Yeow Chin. 1992. A Guide to Medicinal Plants. The Singapore Science Centre. 160pp

No comments: