Ipomoea pes-caprae (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Ipomoea pes-caprae (L.) R.Br.

Protologue: Tuckey, Narr. Exped. Zaire: 477 (1818).


Convolvulus pes-caprae L. (1753), Ipomoea biloba Forssk. (1775), Ipomoea maritima (Desr.) R.Br. (1810).

Vernacular names

  • Beach morning glory, horse’s footprint, goat’s foot creeper (En). Bay-hops (Am). Liseron pied de chèvre (Fr)
  • Indonesia: batata pantai (Manado), daun katang (Moluccas), katang-katang (Balinese)
  • Malaysia: batata pantai, tapak kuda
  • Papua New Guinea: m’buwch (Manus Island), kokolauna (Hula, Central Province), oopurauna (Hisiu, Central Province)
  • Philippines: bagasua (Tagalog, Bisaya), balim-balim (Tagalog), kamkamote (Iloko). Burma (Myanmar): pinlaikazum
  • Cambodia: trakuon kantek, pak bung tale
  • Thailand: phak bung thale (central), la-buu-lao (peninsular)
  • Vietnam: rau muống biển, bìm chân dê.


Common along all tropical beaches, including South-East Asia.


The plant is mucilaginous and is considered astringent, tonic, alterative, diuretic and laxative, useful in skin affections. In Indonesia, a decoction of the root is considered emollient and diminishes the irritation caused by bladder infections. A paste of the leaves is spread on ulcers and boils, to ripen them. The seed is chewed and swallowed as a remedy for cramp and stomach-ache. In the Philippines, Australia, India and Middle America, a decoction is considered anodynal in rheumatism. Leaf sap is applied to jellyfish stings in Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand. The seeds are taken for stomach-ache in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indo-China and India.

I. pes-caprae is a colonizer of sand dunes and an excellent sand binder.


A perennial, glabrous vine, stems prostrate, sometimes twining, 5-30 m long, containing a milky juice, often rooting at the nodes, taproot thick; leaves often pointing to one side, variable, ovate, elliptical, circular, reniform, 3.5-10 cm × 3-10 cm, base broadly cuneate to truncate, apex emarginate or deeply 2-lobed, 2 abaxial glands at the base of midrib, blade thick, petiole up to 17 cm long; flowers in a 1-few-flowered cyme, peduncle stout, 3-16 cm long; pedicel 1-7 cm long, sepals unequal, somewhat leathery, corolla funnel-shaped, 3-6.5 cm long, purple to reddish-purple, centre with darker inside, filaments hairy at base; capsule globular, 1-1.7 cm in diameter, glabrous, leathery; seeds 4, trigonous-globose, 6-10 mm long, black, densely brownish tomentose. I. pes-caprae occurs just behind the flood-line on beaches often colonizing these completely. It also occurs inland, along roadsides and ditches, up to 800 m altitude. Two subspecies are distinguished, subsp. pes-caprae with deeply 2-lobed leaves, lobes rounded, corolla about 6.5 cm long, and subsp. brasiliensis (L.) Ooststr. with emarginate to truncate leaves, and corolla 3-5 cm long. This later one is most common in South-East Asia.

Selected sources

74, 134,

  • Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240, Vol. 2 (I-Z) pp. 1241-2444.

215, 297, 407

  • Holdsworth, D.K., 1977. Medicinal plants of Papua New Guinea. Technical Paper No 175. South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia. 123 pp., 506, 647, 696, 786, 799, 800, 867, 1026, 1071.


Anna L.H. Dibiyantoro & G.H. Schmelzer