Ipomoea pes-caprae: Beach morning glory

Family: Convolvulaceae
Common name: Beach morning glory, Goat’s foot, Bayhops, Railroad vine, Goat’s foot vine, Hare leaf, Sea morning glory

Beach morning glory plants are seen on sea coasts in Asia, Australia, and South America covering large areas of sandy beaches, producing beautiful, lavender flowers.

These plants only grow to a height of 10-12 cm, but can grow very long up to 25 meters because of their long trailing stems that are capable of rooting at the nodes. These long stems help them climb on rocks and other supporting structures covering large areas acting as weak soil binders.

Leaves are thick, green, and smooth with 2 distinct lobes, butterfly-shaped, both the lobes slightly raised towards the sky. The double lobes also resemble goat’s foot and hence the plants are also called Goat’s foot. They can effectively climb on huge rocks placed on the beaches.

Beach morning glory leaves are 5-10 cm long sparsely covering the entire area of the plant. Flowers are cup-shaped, lavender, or pink in color with fused petals. The center is darker with prominent white stamens and style. These flowers resemble morning glory, hence giving the plant its name Beach Morning Glory.

These plants also produce small fruit capsules that contain 4 small hairy seeds. The seed are capable of floating in the water and travelling long distances to other shores, since they are resistant to salt water.

The plant itself is tolerant of salinity, salt sprays, strong winds, and waves, making them one of the most common beach plants anywhere in the world. They can even be grown in gardens provided they are watered regularly.

After fruiting, the plants tends to become weak and dried out. So they have to be pruned or replanted after a while especially if they are grown as ground covers or hedge plants.

Beach morning glory’s beautiful leaves and bright flowers make them ideal ornamental plants that can be grown in beach houses, resorts, and sea-side structures. They can grow very quickly and climb on hedges or supporting structures flowering abundantly.

Beach morning glory plants have some medicinal uses in the treatment of inflammation, stomach ailments, fish stings, and cuts.

Propagation is through seeds and stem cuttings.