Ipomoea aquatica Forsskal

Ipomoea aquatica Forsskal





Vernacular Names

Malaysia Kangkong, kankung.
English Kangkong, water convolvulus, water spinach.
Indonesia Kangkung, kankong.
Papua New Guinea Kangkong, kango.
Philippines Kangkong (Tagalog), balangog, galatgat (Ilocano).
Cambodia Trâkuön.
Laos Bôngz.
Thailand Phakbung (General), phakthotyot (Central).
Vietnam Rau mu[oos]ng.
French Patate aquatique, liseron d'eau.

Geographical Distributions

Ipomoea aquatica originated in tropical Asia (possibly India) and can be found in South and Southeast Asia, tropical Africa, South and Central America and Oceania. I. aquatica is an important leafy vegetable only in South and Southeast Asia. It is intensively grown and frequently eaten throughout Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and in southern China.


I. aquatica is an annual or perennial and fast-growing herb with smooth, succulent and hollow stems rooting at the nodes in a wet ground.

The leaves are arranged alternately, with a long petiole, triangular or lance-shaped, measuring 2.5-15 cm x 0.5-10 cm and heart-shaped or hastate at the base. The petioles are green or purple.

The flowers are borne singly or in clusters of 2-7 in the leaf axils, funnel-form, measure 4-7.5 cm long with a limb measures about 5 cm wide and with a magenta or purple throat, or pink, lavender or purple.

The fruit is an ovoid capsule, measuring 7-9 mm in diametre, smooth, brown, cupped by the 5-lobed sepal and contains 2-4 seeds.

The seed is angular to rounded, smooth or velvet, measures 4 mm long and black or light to dark brown. Seedling exhibits epigeal germination and with horseshoe-shaped cotyledons.

Ecology / Cultivation

Probably, I. aquatica is a quantitative short-day plant. It produces optimum yields in the lowland humid tropics, with stable high temperatures and short-day conditions. I. aquatica is a typical lowland vegetable. It is rarely grown above 700 m altitude because at average temperatures below 23°C, the growth rate is too slow to make it as an economic crop. At higher latitudes (North Thailand, North Vietnam, Hong Kong), it is mainly grown as a summer vegetable. Adapted to a wide range of soil conditions, I. aquatica has a relatively high soil moisture requirement and clay soils are generally suitable. Soils with a high level of organic material are preferable. The optimum pH is between 5.3 and 6.0.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 8: Vegetables.