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Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato) flower
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Convolvulaceae
Tribe: Ipomoeeae
Genus: Ipomoea
L. 1753[1]

More than 600, see list

    • Acmostemon Pilg.
    • Adamboe Raf.
    • Amphione Raf.
    • Apopleumon Raf.
    • Batatas Choisy
    • Bombycospermum J.Presl
    • Bonanox Raf.
    • Calboa Cav.
    • Calonyction Choisy
    • Calycanthemum Klotzsch
    • Cleiemera Raf.
    • Cleiostoma Raf.
    • Clitocyamos St.-Lag.
    • Coiladena Raf.
    • Convolvuloides Moench
    • Decaloba Raf.
    • Diatrema Raf.
    • Diatremis Raf.
    • Dimerodiscus Gagnep.
    • Doxema Raf.
    • Elythrostamna Bojer ex Desjardins
    • Euryloma Raf.
    • Exallosis Raf.
    • Exocroa Raf.
    • Exogonium Choisy
    • Fraxima Raf.
    • Gynoisa Raf.
    • Isypus Raf.
    • Kolofonia Raf.
    • Lariospermum Raf.
    • Latrienda Raf.
    • Legendrea Webb & Berthel.
    • Leptocallis G.Don
    • Macrostemma Pers.
    • Marcellia Mart. ex Choisy
    • Melascus Raf.
    • Milhania Neck.
    • Mina Cerv.
    • Modesta Raf.
    • Morenoa La Llave
    • Navipomoea (Roberty) Roberty
    • Neorthosis Raf.
    • Nil Medik.
    • Ornithosperma Raf.
    • Parasitipomoea Hayata
    • Pentacrostigma K.Afzel.
    • Pharbitis Choisy
    • Plesiagopus Raf.
    • Quamoclit Mill.
    • Quamoclita Raf.
    • Quamoclitia Raf.
    • Saccia Naudin
    • Stomadena Raf.
    • Tereietra Raf.
    • Tirtalia Raf.
    • Tremasperma Raf.
    • Turbina Raf.
Ipomoea transvaalensis
Ipomoea setosa
Ipomoea muricata
Ipomoea orizabensis
Ipomoea magnusiana

Ipomoea (/ˌɪpəˈm.ə, --/)[3][4] is the largest genus in the plant family Convolvulaceae, with over 600 species. It is a large and diverse group, with common names including morning glory, water convolvulus or water spinach, sweet potato, bindweed, moonflower, etc.[5] The genus occurs throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, and comprises annual and perennial herbaceous plants, lianas, shrubs, and small trees; most of the species are twining climbing plants.

Their most widespread common name is morning glory, but some species in related genera bear that same common name and some Ipomoea species are known by different common names. Those formerly separated in Calonyction[6] (Greek καλός kalós "good" and νύξ, νυκτός núx, nuktós, "night") are called moonflowers.[5] The name Ipomoea is derived from the Ancient Greek ἴψ, meaning 'woodworm', and ὅμοιος (hómoios), meaning "resembling". It refers to their twining habit.[7]

Uses and ecology

Whitestar potato, Ipomoea lacunosa

Human uses of Ipomoea include:

My pistol may snap, my mojo is frail
But I rub my root, my luck will never fail
When I rub my root, my John the Conquer root
Aww, you know there ain't nothin' she can do, Lord,
I rub my John the Conquer root

As medicine and entheogen

Ergonovine (ergometrine)

Humans use Ipomoea spp. for their content of medical and psychoactive compounds, mainly alkaloids.[11] Some species are renowned for their properties in folk medicine and herbalism; for example, Vera Cruz jalap (I. jalapa) and Tampico jalap (I. simulans) are used to produce jalap, a cathartic preparation accelerating the passage of stool.[12] Kiribadu ala (giant potato, I. mauritiana) is one of the many ingredients of chyawanprash, the ancient Ayurvedic tonic called "the elixir of life"[13] for its wide-ranging properties.

The leaves of I. batatas are eaten as a vegetable, and have been shown to slow oxygenation of LDLs, with some similar potential health benefits to green tea and grape polyphenols.[14]

Other species were and still are used as potent entheogens. Seeds of Mexican morning glory (tlitliltzin, I. tricolor) were thus used by Aztecs and Zapotecs in shamanistic and priestly divination rituals, and at least by the former also as a poison, to give the victim a "horror trip" (see also Aztec entheogenic complex). Beach moonflower (I. violacea) was also used thusly, and the cultivars called 'Heavenly Blue', touted today for their psychoactive properties, seem to represent an indeterminable assembly of hybrids of these two species.

Ergine (D-lysergic acid amide)

Ergoline derivatives (lysergamides) are probably responsible for the entheogenic activity. Ergine (LSA), isoergine, D-lysergic acid N-(α-hydroxyethyl)amide and lysergol have been isolated from I. tricolor, I. violacea and/or purple morning glory (I. purpurea); although these are often assumed to be the cause of the plants' effects, this is not supported by scientific studies, which show although they are psychoactive, they are not notably hallucinogenic.[citation needed] Alexander Shulgin in TiHKAL suggests ergonovine is responsible, instead. It has verified psychoactive properties, though as yet other undiscovered lysergamides possibly are present in the seeds.

Though most often noted as "recreational" drugs, the lysergamides[15] are also of medical importance. Ergonovine enhances the action of oxytocin, used to still post partum bleeding. Ergine induces drowsiness and a relaxed state, so might be useful in treating anxiety disorder. Whether Ipomoea species are useful sources of these compounds remains to be determined. In any case, in some jurisdictions, certain Ipomoea are regulated, e.g. by the Louisiana State Act 159, which bans cultivation of I. violacea except for ornamental purposes.

Vera Cruz jalap (I. purga) from Köhler's Medicinal Plants

Pests and diseases


Many herbivores avoid morning glories such as Ipomoea, as the high alkaloid content makes these plants unpalatable, if not toxic. Nonetheless, Ipomoea species are used as food plants by the caterpillars of certain Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). For a selection of diseases of the sweet potato (I. batatas), many of which also infect other members of this genus, see List of sweet potato diseases.



The species of Ipomoea interfere with each other's pollination. Pollen from different species compete in each other's reproductive processes, imposing a fitness cost.[16]


See also



  1. ^ "Genus: Ipomoea L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-10-05. Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2010-11-10.
  2. ^ "Ipomoea L." Plants of the World Online. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 2017. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  3. ^ "Ipomoea". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 2020-03-22.
  4. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book. 1995. pp. 606–07.
  5. ^ a b Gunn, Charles R. (1972). "moonflower". Brittonia. 24 (2): 150–168. doi:10.2307/2805866. JSTOR 2805866. S2CID 44714712.
  6. ^ Gunn, Charles R. (1972). "Calonyction". Brittonia. 24 (2): 150–168. doi:10.2307/2805866. JSTOR 2805866. S2CID 44714712.
  7. ^ Austin, Daniel F. (2004). Florida Ethnobotany. CRC Press. p. 365. ISBN 978-0-8493-2332-4.
  8. ^ Vijayan Namboothiri, Mini. 'Dashapushpam'- through the looking glasses of Science and Religion. ISBN 978-620-0-31860-2. OCLC 1197284682.
  9. ^ Uthaman, Ashly; Nair, Sreesha N (2017). "A Review on Ten Sacred Flowers in Kerala: Dasapushpam". Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology. 10 (5): 1555. doi:10.5958/0974-360x.2017.00274.8. ISSN 0974-3618.
  10. ^ Massachusetts Institute of Technology Summer Institute in Materials Science and Material Culture: Rubber Processing in Ancient Mesoamerica. Retrieved 2007-NOV-22.
  11. ^ Nowak, Julia; Woźniakiewicz, Michał; Klepacki, Piotr; Sowa, Anna; Kościelniak, Paweł (2016). "Identification and determination of ergot alkaloids in Morning Glory cultivars". Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry. 408 (12): 3093–3102. doi:10.1007/s00216-016-9322-5. ISSN 1618-2642. PMC 4830885. PMID 26873205.
  12. ^ "JALAP: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews". www.webmd.com. Retrieved 2024-05-30.
  13. ^ "CHYAWANPRASH - Ancient Elixir of Life". Everest Ayurveda. 2022-08-23. Retrieved 2024-05-30.
  14. ^ Nagai, Miu; Tani, Mariko; Kishimoto, Yoshimi; Iizuka, Maki; Saita, Emi; Toyozaki, Miku; Kamiya, Tomoyasu; Ikeguchi, Motoya; Kondo, Kazuo (2011). "Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas L.) leaves suppressed oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) in vitro and in human subjects". J Clin Biochem Nutr. 48 (3): 203–8. doi:10.3164/jcbn.10-84. PMC 3082074. PMID 21562639.
  15. ^ PubChem. "Lysergamide". pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 2024-05-30.
  16. ^ Weber, Marjorie G.; Strauss, Sharon Y. (2016). "Coexistence in Close Relatives: Beyond Competition and Reproductive Isolation in Sister Taxa". Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics. 47 (1). Annual Reviews: 359–381. doi:10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-112414-054048. ISSN 1543-592X.