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Botanical Name:Ipomoea reptans
Genus: Ipomoea subgenus
Species: I. aquatica
Vernacular names: Kangkong, kangkung, water convolvulus, water spinach, swamp spinach, swamp morning glory (En). Kangkong, liseron d’eau, patate aquatique (Fr). Cancon, batata aquática (Po). Mriba wa ziwa (Sw).
In Bengal it is called Kalmi
Habitat :Ipomoea aquatica is widespread as a swamp weed in all tropical and many subtropical lowland areas. It is a declared aquatic or terrestrial noxious weed in the south-eastern United States. It occurs in nearly all countries of tropical Africa, from Mauritania and Senegal, east to Eritrea and Somalia, and south to South Africa, and also in the Indian Ocean islands. It is a popular cultivated vegetable in South-East Asia and southern China, but is rare in India. It is known as a leafy vegetable in tropical America, where people of Asian origin cultivate it. It is grown on a small scale under protected cultivation in France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands for Vietnamese, Thai and Indonesian clients. In tropical Africa it is reported as a collected wild vegetable in Benin, DR Congo, Kenya and Tanzania. Asian cultivars are occasionally grown on a small scale for the Asian clientele near big cities. Kangkong can be found in market gardens, e.g. in Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria.
DESCRIPTION: Water spinach is an herbaceous trailing vine that dwells in muddy stream banks, freshwater ponds, and marshes. This perennial aquatic vine is confined to the tropics and subtropics zones because it is susceptible to frosts and does not grow well when temperatures are below 23.9 C. Water spinach can reproduce sexually by producing one to four seeds in fruiting capsules or vegetatively by stem fragmentation. It is a member of the “morning-glory” family.
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Flowers: Funnel shaped, solitary or in few flowered clusters at leaf axils, two inches wide, pink to white in color, and darker in the throat (rarely nearly white).
Leaves: Arrowhead shaped, alternate, one to six inches long, and one to three inches wide
Stems: Vine like, trailing, with milky sap and roots at the nodes; usually to 9 ft. long but can be much longer.
Fruit: An oval or spherical capsule, woody at maturity, 1 cm long, holding 1 to 4 grayish seeds.
The first historical record of W ater spinach is of its cultivation as a vegetable during the Chin Dynasty around 300 A.D. Native to India and Southeast Asia, but widely cultivated and naturalized in Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Islands, and South America. This aquatic vine is rich in iron, making it an ancient remedy for anemia. So people emigrating from Asian regions understandably wanted to take this nutritious vegetable along for use in traditional recipes. It is unclear when this plant was introduced in the United States, but this invasive and aggressive plant poses a serious threat to waterways in the Southern United States. W ater spinach has been introduced repeatedly to Florida waters since 1973, despite its state and federal listing as a prohibited plant and noxious weed.
Young shoots and leaves of water spinach are collected for use as a leafy vegetable. Often the whole above-ground plant part of cultivated water spinach , including the tender hollow stems, is consumed. Water spinatch can be stir-fried, steamed, boiled for a few minutes or lightly fried in oil and eaten in various dishes. It is often mixed with hot peppers and garlic, and prepared with meat or fish. In Asia the leaves are sometimes separated from the stems, and the stems are cooked a bit longer. In Africa only the leaves of wild plants are consumed, the stems are removed. The roots are occasionally eaten. Wild kangkong is often collected as fodder for cattle and pigs.
In Indonesia, kangkong or water spinach is traditionally given at dinner to young children to make them quiet and help them sleep well. In Asia it is used in traditional medicine. The sap is used as an emetic, purgative and sedative, and flower buds are applied to ringworm. In Sri Lanka kangkong is used to treat diabetes mellitus.
The nutritional composition of raw kangkong per 100 g edible portion is: water 92.5 g, energy 80 kJ (19 kcal), protein 2.6 g, fat 0.2 g, carbohydrate 3.1 g, dietary fibre 2.1 g, Ca 77 mg, Mg 71 mg, P 39 mg, Fe 1.7 mg, Zn 0.2 mg, vitamin A 6300 IU, thiamin 0.03 mg, riboflavin 0.10 mg, niacin 0.90 mg, folate 57 ?g, ascorbic acid 55 mg (USDA, 2002). The nutritional value of leaf-blades is higher than that of petioles and stems; unfortunately, sources do not state whether stems and leaves or leaves only were analysed. Accumulation of heavy metals in kangkong has been reported for Asia because the plants often grow in polluted water.
Kangkong showed oral hypoglycaemic activity in tests with diabetic humans and rats; it was shown that an aqueous leaf extract can be as effective as tolbutamide in reducing blood glucose levels.
If harvested from contaminated areas, and eaten raw, I. aquatica may transmit Fasciolopsis buski, an intestinal fluke parasite of humans and pigs, causing fasciolopsiasis.
Study in animals;
Studies conducted with pregnant diabetes-induced rats have shown a blood sugar-lowering effect of Ipomoea aquatica by inhibiting the intestinal absorption of glucose.
Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.