Ipomoea pes-caprae (PROTA)

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


distribution in Africa (wild)
habit of flowering plant. Source: PROSEA
Protologue: Tuckey, Narr. exped. Zaire: 477 (1818).
Family: Convolvulaceae
Chromosome number: 2n = 30

Vernacular names

  • Beach morning glory, horse’s footprint, goat’s foot creeper, goat’s foot convolvulus, railroadvine, bay-hops (En).
  • Liseron pied de chèvre, ipomée pied de chèvre, batate ronde, patate à Durand, patate bord de mer, batatran (Fr).
  • Batata-de-mar (Po).
  • Majani ya mwaka, mlakasa (Sw).

Origin and geographic distribution

Ipomoea pes-caprae is extremely widespread along all tropical beaches. It is also widespread and common along shores of the sea and lakes in tropical Africa, occurring from Cape Verde and Senegal eastward to Somalia, southward to South Africa, and on all islands in the Indian Ocean.

Uses

Ipomoea pes-caprae is widely used in traditional medicine. The plant is mucilaginous and is considered astringent, tonic, alterative, diuretic and purgative. Poultices made from the leaves are commonly used to treat skin affections, ulcers, boils, swellings, stings and wounds. Decoctions are widely administered as anodyne to treat rheumatism, and seeds against stomach-ache. In West Africa leaf preparations are applied to ulcers and abscesses, as emollient and to treat arthritis, and in East Africa leaf pulp is used to treat rheumatism and colic. In Madagascar root infusions are taken against syphilis, leaf infusions to treat urethral discharge and back pain, and leaf sap is taken against gonorrhoea. In the Comoros leaf preparations are used as haemostatic, analgesic, cicatrisant and anodyne. In Réunion a root decoction is administered against fever and colic. In Indonesia root decoctions are considered emollient and to diminish irritation caused by bladder infections.

Ipomoea pes-caprae checks erosion and drifting of sand in wind-swept areas by acting as a sand binder by. It contributes to the accretion of land and facilitates the establishment of other plants. It has been used successfully to revegetate mine spoil. The leaves are browsed by livestock and in Tanzania they are eaten as a cooked vegetable, alone or in combination with other vegetables. The stems are used for ropes.

Production and international trade

In Africa Ipomoea pes-caprae is only traded on a local scale.

Properties

The plant contains about 8% resin as well as steroids, terpenes and tannins. Leaves contain phenols and sterols, stems coumarins, seeds alkaloids, flavonoids and sterols, and roots saponins. Pentasaccharide resin glycosides, called pescapreins, have been isolated from the aerial parts of the plant; several of these compounds increased the cytotoxicity of doxorubicin to human breast cancer cell lines and inhibited multidrug resistance in Staphylococcus aureus. Ipomoea pes-caprae showed antihistaminic, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic activities in vitro. The modified apocarotenoid 2-hydroxy-4,4,7-trimethyl-1(4H)-naphthalenone isolated from the aerial parts, showed anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis in vitro; some other isolated compounds have the same effect. Plant extracts inhibit ADP-induced platelet aggregation. The antispasmodic activity may be due to the presence of β-damascenone and ε-phytol, which showed activity comparable to papaverine, a general spasmolytic agent; the first compound is known to be an antihistaminic agent. Extracts of the whole plant showed immunostimulatory activity demonstrated by proliferation of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Quinic acid esters isolated from the extracts exhibited collagenase inhibitory activity, whereas they had almost no cytotoxicity. This may offer possibilities for the development of preparations for preventing ageing of the skin. In tests with mice, extracts of the aerial parts of the plant showed antinociceptive properties; glochidone, betulinic acid, α-amyrin acetate, β-amyrin acetate and quercetin 3-O-β-D-glucofuranoside have been isolated as active compounds.

Description

Perennial, glabrous herb with prostrate, sometimes twining, slightly angular and hollow stems up to 30 m long, containing a milky juice, often rooting at the nodes, with thick taproot. Leaves alternate, often held erect to one side of the stem, simple; stipules absent; petiole up to 10(–17) cm long, usually reddish; blade ovate to circular, elliptical, heart-shaped or kidney-shaped, 3.5–10.5 cm × 3–12 cm, broadly cuneate to truncate at base, deeply notched at apex, leathery, with 2 glands at base, pinnately veined with numerous lateral veins. Inflorescence an axillary few-flowered cyme; peduncle up to 9(–16) cm long. Flowers bisexual, nearly regular, 5-merous; pedicel 1–4.5(–7) cm long; sepals free, slightly unequal, ovate, 0.5–1.5 cm long; corolla funnel-shaped, 3–6.5 cm long, pinkish to reddish purple with darker centre inside; stamens inserted near base of corolla tube, slightly unequal in length, 7–12 mm long, hairy at base; ovary superior, bell-shaped, 2-celled, style c. 2 cm long, stigma globose, lobed-papillose. Fruit a globose to ellipsoid capsule 1–1.5(–2) cm long, crowned by the style, enclosed by the sepals, glabrous, dehiscing with 4 leathery valves, up to 4-seeded. Seeds ellipsoid, 0.5–1 cm long, hairy, reddish brown to dark brown. Seedling with epigeal germination.

Other botanical information

Ipomoea is a large and complex genus containing 500–600 species of vines and shrubs, widely distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics. Tropical America is richest in species, followed by tropical Africa, where about 150 species can be found; Madagascar harbours approximately 35 species.

Two subspecies have been distinguished in Ipomoea pes-caprae: subsp. pes-caprae occurring in Arabia and tropical Asia, and subsp. brasiliensis (L.) Ooststr. occurring throughout the tropics.

Several other Ipomoea spp. are medicinally used in East Africa.

Ipomoea cicatricosa

Ipomoea cicatricosa Baker is an erect shrub up to 2 m tall, with prominent leaf scars; the flowers are solitary and mauve. It occurs in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. In Somalia a root decoction is drunk by men as an aphrodisiac and to treat gonorrhoea.

Ipomoea cordofana

Ipomoea cordofana Choisy is a trailing perennial herb up to 2 m long with pale lilac flowers with a dark centre or white. It occurs in Sudan, Kenya and Uganda. In Sudan a whole plant extract is externally applied to treat skin problems.

Ipomoea donaldsonii

Ipomoea donaldsonii Rendle is a shrub up to 2 m tall with blackish branches which become spine-tipped when older, young branches are woolly-pubescent, leaves small, flowers solitary, purple or white with purple centre. It occurs in Ethiopia, Somalia and northern Kenya. In Somalia a root infusion is drunk to treat rheumatism.

Ipomoea ficifolia

Ipomoea ficifolia Lindl. is a twining perennial, densely bristly pubescent with pink or mauve flowers in cymes. It occurs in Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and eastern South Africa. In South Africa the liquid strained from crushed leaves in water is taken as a purgative to treat stomach-ache. A hot leaf infusion is drunk to treat snakebites.

Ipomoea hildebrandtii

Ipomoea hildebrandtii Vatke is a small variable shrub up to 2.5 m tall, stems soft-pubescent, flowers in lax cymes, flowers white, purple or white with purple centre. It occurs in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In Uganda an infusion of the dried powdered seeds is taken to treat mental disorders. Roots and leaves are pounded and applied to snakebites, and an infusion is drunk. A fresh leaf decoction is drunk to treat general body pain.

Ipomoea jaegeri

Ipomoea jaegeri Pilg. is a small succulent shrub up to 75 cm tall, with silvery-pubescent shoots, later glabrous, and solitary white to pink flowers. It occurs in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. In Tanzania the liquid from ground roots in water is taken as an emetic or a root decoction is drunk.

Ipomoea kituiensis

Ipomoea kituiensis Vatke is an almost erect to twining, pubescent herb up to 6 m long, with white to yellow flowers with a dark centre. It occurs in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Kenya a root decoction is drunk by the Luo people to treat stomach-ache.

Ipomoea spathulata

Ipomoea spathulata Hallier f. is a densely pubescent shrub with almost erect or twining branches up to 2.5 m long, and with white, cream or yellow flowers with a dark centre, in cymes. It occurs in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. In Kenya a root or sprout decoction is applied to skin problems and also taken internally.

Growth and development

The stems of Ipomoea pes-caprae creeping on sandy beaches often form tangled mats, which trap leaf litter and wind-blown organic material and thus improve soil fertility. Ipomoea pes-caprae is self-incompatible, which is controlled by several genes. The fruits float and are dispersed by sea currents.

Ecology

Ipomoea pes-caprae occurs on sandy sea beaches, but also inland along greater lakes and sometimes along roadsides and ditches up to 750(–1200) m altitude. It depends on ground water with a lower salt content than sea water and consequently is found above the high-tide mark on sea beaches. It is tolerant of high temperature, periodic drought, sea water spray, high soil pH and low soil nitrogen content.

Propagation and planting

Ipomoea pes-caprae can be easily propagated by cuttings. Planting of stem cuttings can be done 60–100 cm apart in rows perpendicular to the prevailing wind. Ipomoea pes-caprae can also be successfully propagated from nodal explants on a Murashige and Skoog medium, supplemented with either 2-isopentenyladenine or zeatin.

Harvesting

The plant parts used for medicinal purposes and the leaves for use as a vegetable can be collected throughout the year.

Handling after harvest

In Tanzania leaves are sometimes dried and stored for later use as vegetable. They can be stored for several months.

Genetic resources

Ipomoea pes-caprae is very widespread and locally common, and is not in danger of genetic erosion.

Prospects

Several uses of Ipomoea pes-caprae in traditional medicine have been supported by the results of pharmacological research, including applications to treat various pains, inflammations and stings by jellyfish causing dermatitis. Further research is needed in order to evaluate possibilities for the development of new medicines, also in view of the search for new drugs against cancer and multidrug-resistant bacteria. Ipomoea pes-caprae may offer interesting leads for the development of preparations to counteract ageing of the skin and to treat skin inflammations.

With more intensive utilization of beaches, planting of the sand-binding Ipomoea pes-caprae may become more important. Selection of good planting material and suitable cropping methods is then necessary. Its usefulness for reclamation of mine spoils also needs further investigation. Little is known about its use as a cooked vegetable, and phytochemical research of the leaves is recommended.

Major references

  • Deroin, T., 2001. Convolvulaceae. Flore de Madagascar et des Comores, familles 133 bis et 171. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. pp. 11–287.
  • Dibiyantoro, A.L.H. & Schmelzer, G.H., 2001. Ipomoea L. In: van Valkenburg, J.L.C.H. & Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 312–320.
  • Escobedo-Martinez, C. & Pereda-Miranda, R., 2007. Resin glycosides from Ipomoea pes-caprae. Journal of Natural Products 70(6): 974–978.
  • Gurib-Fakim, A. & Brendler, T., 2004. Medicinal and aromatic plants of Indian Ocean Islands: Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles and Mascarenes. Medpharm, Stuttgart, Germany. 568 pp.
  • Lavergne, R., 2001. Le grand livre des tisaneurs et plantes médicinales indigènes de la Réunion. Editions Orphie, Chevagny sur Guye, France. 522 pp.
  • Pereda-Miranda, R., Escalante-Sanchez, E. & Escobedo-Martinez, C., 2005. Characterization of lipophilic pentasaccharides from beach morning glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae). Journal of Natural Products 68(2): 226–230.
  • Ruffo, C.K., Birnie, A. & Tengnäs, B., 2002. Edible wild plants of Tanzania. Technical Handbook No 27. Regional Land Management Unit/ SIDA, Nairobi, Kenya. 766 pp.
  • Sebsebe Demissew, 2006. Convolvulaceae. In: Hedberg, I., Ensermu Kelbessa, Edwards, S., Sebsebe Demissew & Persson, E. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Volume 5. Gentianaceae to Cyclocheilaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 161–231.
  • Sunarno, B. & Oyen, L.P.A., 1997. Ipomoea L. In: Faridah Hanum, I. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 11. Auxiliary plants. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 163–166.
  • Tao, H., Hao, X., Liu, J., Ding, J., Fang, Y., Gu, Q. & Zhu, W., 2008. Resin glycoside constituents of Ipomoea pes-caprae (beach morning glory). Journal of Natural Products 71(12): 1998–2003.

Other references

  • Adjanohoun, E.J., Aké Assi, L., Ali Ahmed, Eymé, J., Guinko, S., Kayonga, A., Keita, A. & Lebras, M. (Editors), 1982. Médecine traditionelle et pharmacopée - Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques aux Comores. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 217 pp.
  • Burkill, H.M., 1985. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 1, Families A–D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 960 pp.
  • Burkill, H.M., 2000. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 5, Families S–Z, Addenda. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 686 pp.
  • Debray, M., Jacquemin, H. & Razafindrambao, R., 1971. Contribution à l’inventaire des plantes médicinales de Madagascar. Travaux et Documents No 8. ORSTOM, Paris, France. 150 pp.
  • De Souza, M.M., Madeira, A., Berti, C., Krogh, R., Yunes, R.A. & Cechinel Filho, V., 2000. Antinociceptive properties of the methanolic extract obtained from Ipomoea pes-caprae (L.) R. Br. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 69(1): 85–90.
  • Escobedo-Martinez, C., Cruz-Morales, S., Fragoso-Serrano, M., Rahman, M.M., Gibbons, S. & Pereda-Miranda, R., 2010. Characterization of a xylose containing oligosaccharide, an inhibitor of multidrug resistance in Staphylococcus aureus, from Ipomoea pes-caprae. Phytochemistry 71: 1796–1801.
  • Fondekar, K.P., Paknikar, S.K., Torres, S. & Kamat, S.P., 2012. Biogenic-type synthesis of 2-hydroxy-4,4,7-trimethyl-1(4H)-naphthalenone, a modified apocarotenoid from Ipomoea pes-caprae. Natural Product Communications 7(7): 827–830.
  • Gonçalves, M.L., 1987. Convolvulaceae. In: Launert, E. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 8, part 1. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. pp. 9–129.
  • Gurib-Fakim, A., Guého, J. & Bissoondoyal, M.D., 1995. Plantes médicinales de Maurice, tome 1. Editions de l’Océan Indien, Rose-Hill, Mauritius. 495 pp.
  • Gurib-Fakim, A., Sewraj, M., Guého, J. & Dulloo, E., 1993. Medical ethnobotany of some weeds of Mauritius and Rodrigues. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 39(3): 177–185.
  • Lavergne, R. & Véra, R., 1989. Médecine traditionelle et pharmacopée - Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques à la Réunion. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 236 pp.
  • Meeuse, A.D.J. & Welman, W.G., 2000. Convolvulaceae. In: Germishuizen, G. (Editor). Flora of southern Africa. Volume 28, part 1. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria, South Africa. 138 pp.
  • Meira, M, Pereira da Silva, E., David, J.M. & David, J.P., 2012. Review of the genus Ipomoea: traditional uses, chemistry and biological activities. Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia 22(3): 682–713.
  • Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
  • Novy, J.W., 1997. Medicinal plants of the eastern region of Madagascar. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 55: 119–126.
  • Philippi, M.E., Duarte, B.M., Da Silva, C.V., De Souza, M.T., Niero, R., Cechinel Filho, V. & Bueno, E.C., 2010. Immunostimulatory activity of Calophyllum brasiliense, Ipomoea pes-caprae and Matayba elaeagnoides demonstrated by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells proliferation. Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica 67(1): 69–73.
  • Rogers, K.L., Grice, I.D. & Griffiths, L.R., 2000. Inhibition of platelet aggregation and 5-HT release by extracts of Australian plants used traditionally as headache treatments. European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 9(4): 355–363.
  • Teramachi, F., Koyano, T., Kowithayakorn, T., Hayashi, M., Komiyama, K. & Ishibashi, M., 2005. Collagenase inhibitory quinic acid esters from Ipomoea pes-caprae. Journal of Natural Products 68(5): 794–796.
  • Verdcourt, B., 1963. Convolvulaceae. In: Hubbard, C.E. & Milne-Redhead, E. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 161 pp.
  • Yu, B.W., Luo, J.G., Wang, J.S., Zhang, D.M., Yu, S.S. & Kong, L.Y., 2011. Pentasaccharide resin glycosides from Ipomoea pes-caprae. Journal of Natural Products 74(4): 620–628.

Afriref references

Sources of illustration

  • Sunarno, B. & Oyen, L.P.A., 1997. Ipomoea L. In: Faridah Hanum, I. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 11. Auxiliary plants. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 163–166.

Author(s)

  • R.H.M.J. Lemmens, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article

Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2013. Ipomoea pes-caprae (L.) R.Br. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands. Accessed 12 November 2020.