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Ipomoea cairica: The Ornamental Marvel from Africa and Asia

The Ipomoea cairica is a perennial twining herbaceous plant from the order of tubular flowers, the Convolvulaceae family, and the sweet potato genus. The entirety of the plant is hairless, with a slender stem that has thin edges. The leaves are palmate with ovate-lanceolate, oval, or elliptical lobes. The middle lobe is larger, and the […]

The Ipomoea cairica is a perennial twining herbaceous plant from the order of tubular flowers, the Convolvulaceae family, and the sweet potato genus. The entirety of the plant is hairless, with a slender stem that has thin edges.

The leaves are palmate with ovate-lanceolate, oval, or elliptical lobes. The middle lobe is larger, and the umbel inflorescence grows from the leaf axil. Both the bracts and small bracts are small, scale-like, and quickly shed.

The calyx edge is dry and membranous, and the corolla is purple-red, purple, pale red, or occasionally white and funnel-shaped. The ovary is hairless, the style is slender, the capsule is nearly spherical, and the seeds are black with brownish fluffy edges.

This species is native to Africa and Asia, usually found near beaches or along watercourses. It is commonly cultivated as an ornamental plant.

The tubers are used medicinally for external application to heat toxin sores, having a heat-clearing and detoxifying effect. The fruit is used to treat falls and strikes.

I. Morphological characteristics

Ipomoea cairica

This is a perennial twining herbaceous plant that is hairless, and the roots form tubers when old. The stem is slender with fine edges, and sometimes has small wart-like protrusions.

The leaves are palmately 5-deeply lobed or entirely lobed, the lobes are ovate-lanceolate, oval, or elliptical, the middle lobe is larger, 4-5 cm long, 2-2.5 cm wide, the side lobes are slightly smaller, the tip is gradually pointed or slightly blunt, with a small tip, the base is wedge-shaped and gradually narrower, the entire margin or irregular small waves, the base has one pair of lobes usually 2-lobed; the petiole is 2-8 cm long, with small palmately 5-lobed stipules (axillary short shoot leaves).

The umbel inflorescence is axillary, the peduncle is 2-8 cm long, with 1-3 flowers, or occasionally more than 3; the bracts and small bracts are small, scale-like, and quickly shed; the flower stem is 0.5-2 cm long, sometimes has small wart-like protrusions; the calyx is slightly unequal in length, the outer 2 pieces are shorter, oval, 5-6 mm long, the outside sometimes has small wart-like protrusions, the inner calyx is slightly wider, 7-9 mm long, the calyx edge is dry and membranous, the tip is blunt round or has an inconspicuous small tip; the corolla is purple-red, purple, pale red, or occasionally white, funnel-shaped, 5-7 cm long; the stamens are unequal in length, the filament base is slightly enlarged and extends downward adnate to the base of the corolla tube, hairy; the ovary is hairless, the style is slender, longer than the stamens, the stigma is 2-spherical.

The capsule is nearly spherical, about 1 cm high, 2-chambered, 4-valved. The seeds are black, about 5 mm long, the edge is brown and fluffy.

II. Species classification

Ipomoea cairica

The slender Five-clawed Golden Dragon differs from the Five-clawed Golden Dragon in that the stem is slenderer, the leaves are smaller and the lobes are narrower, the middle lobe is 2.5-3.3 cm long, 0.5-1 cm wide, the flowers are smaller, 2.5-3.5 cm long.

It grows in gravelly grass slopes or sunny slopes at an altitude of 1710-2000 meters. It is also found in Myanmar.

III. Growth Environment

This plant thrives in sunny, warm and humid climates, and prefers loose, fertile soil. It often grows in low-altitude, sun-facing locations, such as walls, eaves, flatlands, and roadside shrubs on hillsides.

It can be found growing in shrubs alongside flatlands or mountain roads at altitudes of 90 – 610 meters, always facing the sun. It is commonly cultivated as an ornamental plant.

IV. Distribution Range

Originally native to tropical Asia or Africa, this species is now widely cultivated and naturalized throughout the tropics.

V. Primary Value

Economic

Research has found that the extract of Tetrastigma voinierianum, also known as the Five-Leaved Akebia, exhibits potent insecticidal effects against the carriers of dengue fever, namely the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes.

The Five-Leaved Akebia vine is robust and possesses strong climbing abilities, allowing it to ascend tree trunks swiftly and dominate the peripheries of other plants. Its dense coverage over tree crowns causes the underlying plants to die from inadequate sunlight.

This poses a substantial threat to green plants, particularly those in gardens. Furthermore, the aqueous extract of the Five-Leaved Akebia has a certain allelopathic effect on the germination and growth of plant seedlings.

It exhibits inhibitory effects at high concentrations and promoting effects at low concentrations, a characteristic similar to plant growth regulators.

The tuber of the Five-Leaved Akebia can be used medicinally to treat heat toxin sores through topical application, providing cooling and detoxifying effects. Its leaves and fruits also possess medicinal properties.

The plant is a narrow-leaved Tetrastigma hypoglaucum Planch, of the Vitis family, and can be used in medicine wholly. It can be harvested throughout the year, dried or used fresh.

Note: Another plant of the same genus, Tetrastigma yunnanense Gagnep, also known as the Yunnan Tetrastigma or Five-Leaved Akebia, has similar medicinal properties.

The Five-Leaved Akebia typically propagates through seeds, which are abundant, have high germination rates, and facilitate easy proliferation and rapid growth. However, in the Guangdong region of China, it only flowers.

The Five-Leaved Akebia is heliophilous and commonly found in wastelands, low shrubs along coastlines, bushes, forests in hilly areas, and brook sides at altitudes between 90 to 610 meters.

To control the spread of the Five-Leaved Akebia, it’s recommended to manually remove the plant before it bears fruit during its nutritional growth period to prevent new seed formation and new branch growth.

Chemical methods should be tailored according to the specific growth environment of the Five-Leaved Akebia and supplemented with manual removal.

Moreover, carpenter bees, which are its effective pollinators, along with random visitors like flies and butterflies, can also be controlled to limit its spread.

The Five-Leaved Akebia is a perennial climbing vine, growing 3-6 meters in length. It has a downward, fleshy, white or pinkish tuber. The stem is brown and coarse, with young branches being green and finely striped.

Tendrils and leaves grow opposite each other, with bird-foot-shaped compound leaves growing alternately. It bears small, pale green flowers in a corymbose umbel arrangement opposite or axillary to the leaves in spring. The berries are spherical, purplish-red, or purplish-black.

Medicinal Use

Harvesting: Available all year round.

Characteristics: Bitter and astringent, warm.

Main Uses:

Promotes wound healing, dispels wind and dampness, invigorates the blood and unblocks the meridians. Used to treat fractures, contusions, rheumatic pain, and amenorrhea.

Cools the blood and invigorates it, strengthens the muscles and bones, reduces swelling, and relieves pain. Used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, contusions, unidentified swelling and infection, burns, and skin erosion.

Usage and Dosage: Oral administration: Soaked in liquor, 2-3 ounces. External use: Apply pounded paste or powdered paste.

Precautions: Not suitable for pregnant women.

Prescription: For rheumatoid arthritis, contusions: Use 2-3 ounces of the root or the whole plant of Pseudostellaria heterophylla. Soak it in a pound of liquor for seven days, then take orally. Dosage is 10mL, 2-3 times a day.

Tuber and leaves (Five-leaf Vine): Sweet, cold. Clears heat, detoxifies, stops cough, stops bleeding, promotes diuresis. Used for bone-steaming fever, cough, hemoptysis, stranguria, edema, difficulty in urination, carbuncles and sores. Fruit: Used for contusions.

VI. Growth and Propagation

Propagation is through seeding or cutting. Seeding in May is most suitable, cover the seeds with 1 cm of soil, germination takes place in 5-6 days. Seedlings can be separated when the two leaves are unfolded.

Pseudostellaria heterophylla is usually propagated by seeds. It has a large quantity of seeds, high germination rate, easy propagation, and rapid growth.

Pseudostellaria heterophylla is a sun-loving species, often found in wastelands at altitudes of 90-610 meters, dwarf shrubs along the coast, shrubs, forests in the mountains, and along streams.

VII. Pest Control

Use 1000-1500mL of a 10% glyphosate aqueous solution, diluted with 30-40kg of water, and spray uniformly on the leaves and tender stems of Pseudostellaria heterophylla.

Clean water, not sewage or muddy water, must be used to prepare the pharmaceutical solution to ensure its effectiveness. The spraying time should be on sunny mornings or afternoons when the temperature and relative humidity are high.

Rainfall 6-8 hours after spraying does not affect the drug’s effectiveness. The addition of 0.2% laundry detergent to the water used for dilution can increase the drug’s effectiveness.

The active ingredient of the 41% Nongda aqueous solution is the same as glyphosate but is three times more potent.

The amount of diluted water solution prepared should be one-fourth of that for glyphosate, usually 250-350mL diluted with 30-60kg of water. The method of application and precautions are the same as for glyphosate.

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Peggie

Peggie

Founder of FlowersLib

Peggie was once a high school mathematics teacher, but she set aside her chalkboard and textbooks to follow her lifelong passion for flowers. After years of dedication and learning, she not only established a thriving flower shop but also founded this blog, “Flowers Library”. If you have any questions or wish to learn more about flowers, feel free to contact Peggie.

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