Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Chinese Water Spinach, Swamp Cabbage, Swamp Morning Glory
Ipomoea aquatica

Family: Convolvulaceae (kon-volv-yoo-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ipomoea (ip-oh-MEE-a) (Info)
Species: aquatica (a-KWA-tee-kuh) (Info)

Synonym:Ipomoea reptans

14 members have or want this plant for trade.

Ponds and Aquatics

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Blooms repeatedly

Unknown - Tell us

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost
From seed; germinate in a damp paper towel
From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Click thumbnail
to view:

By UlfEliasson
Thumbnail #1 of Ipomoea aquatica by UlfEliasson

By RichSwanner
Thumbnail #2 of Ipomoea aquatica by RichSwanner

By ByndeweedBeth
Thumbnail #3 of Ipomoea aquatica by ByndeweedBeth

By ByndeweedBeth
Thumbnail #4 of Ipomoea aquatica by ByndeweedBeth

By phicks
Thumbnail #5 of Ipomoea aquatica by phicks

By ByndeweedBeth
Thumbnail #6 of Ipomoea aquatica by ByndeweedBeth

By ByndeweedBeth
Thumbnail #7 of Ipomoea aquatica by ByndeweedBeth

There are a total of 10 photos.
Click here to view them all!


4 positives
2 neutrals
3 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative maccionoadha On Mar 24, 2011, maccionoadha from Halifax, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

This plant is listed on the USDA website as invasive or noxious. Florida State-listed Invasive and Noxious Weeds.

Ipomoea aquatica Forssk. ~ Water Spinach (PAP1 ~ Prohibited aquatic plant, Class 1)

Positive mochimo On Dec 17, 2009, mochimo from MIddle Blue
Indonesia wrote:

In Indonesia, they are called Kangkung. They were a cheap, easy growing, delicious fast crops. They have lots of nutrition within. We all like it.

I think there was some varieties in the genus. As long as I remember, there is two kind of I.aquatica, the first one is called Kangkung darat and kangkung air . The first one, especially grows by seeds, because they produce more seeds, and they grows on the soil which is not damp. This variety doesnt like to be damp, because the root will soon rot if they got too much water.

The second are they one which grows especially in mud or damp soil. The one which is commonly found in swamps, river or lake edges etc. The flower are white, while the first one got red or yellow shade on the flower. The leaf is also different.

They are fast growing, but I dont see any harm from this plants to be considered as dangerous invasive plant, because while they could stand extreme full sun condition, they arent likely to survive in the winters.

Positive wrightie On Mar 1, 2008, wrightie from Metro DC, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

I fell in love with this plant while living in Taiwan. It is utterly delicious when stir fried in some oil with fresh garlic and a pinch of salt. It is known to me as kong syin tsai in Mandarin Chinese (literal translation = hollow heart vegetable).

I really want to grow this plant, provided that I can control it. Am looking for seeds...

Neutral garg On Nov 11, 2007, garg from Alor Setar
Malaysia wrote:

What? A weed?? In Malaysia, it's a food crop! It's called Water Convulvulus (or 'kangkong' in Malay). It's commonly stir-fried, or can be dipped in batter and deep fried. Only the youngest leaves and stems are eaten. If your plant has flowered, that's way too old - it would be too stringy.

Water Convulvulus grows wild by the side of ditches and in swampy/waterlogged areas. It likes to grow at water's edge and sometimes even grows out into the water. It's a favourite food of tortoises. Cultivating this at home is easy as it's a vigorous grower.

Positive ByndeweedBeth On Sep 27, 2007, ByndeweedBeth from scio, oregon, OR (Zone 8a) wrote:

Easily grown in a water tub or a small pond as an interesting edible plant. Not invasive in areas that freeze because you will get 100% mortality at first frost and must carefully restock to enjoy this plant the following year.

Negative frostweed On Dec 19, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Chinese Water Spinach, Swamp Cabbage, Swamp Morning Glory Ipomoea aquatica is naturalized in Texas and other States is considered an invasive noxious plant and is prohibited in Texas.

Positive rickexner On Dec 10, 2004, rickexner from Ames, IA wrote:

There are several subtypes under Ipomoea aquatica. Most are noxious weeds. However, the "alba," or white-stemmed group includes a prized cooking green from Southeast Asia. My Thai friend calls it "phakbung." You will see it sold in bundles in Asian food stores. The leaves resemble morning glory, of course, and the stems are rather stiff and hollow, like spinach getting ready to bolt. However, phakbung cooks down easily. I compare it to spinach in consistency and taste. My Thai friend will tolerate spinach when phakbung is unavailable. But in the warm months of summer, this green might be a surer bet than spinach. I really would like to get some seeds!

Negative PPQOfficer1 On Sep 16, 2002, PPQOfficer1 wrote:

The USDA classifies this plant as a Federal Noxious Weed. Importation into the U.S. is prohibited without a permit. It is a prohibited aquatic plant in the state of Florida, and a prohibited noxious weed in the state of Arizona.

As a Plant Protection and Quarantine Officer with the USDA, I do not recommend the distribution, planting, buying nor growing of Ipomoea aquatica.

Neutral Terry On Aug 23, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Water spinach leaves are almost arrowhead-shaped, one to six inches long, and one to three inches wide.

This annual vine grows best in constant wet soil or as an emersed freshwater plant. Water spinach leaves are almost arrowhead-shaped, one to six inches long, and one to three inches wide. The leaves have notched bases, with rounded or pointed lobes. The flowers are 2" across.

The leaf and stem are used in Oriental cooking; when boiled or fried, the taste is similar to spinach, hence the common name.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Carmel, California
Lakeland, Florida
Pukalani, Hawaii
Marrero, Louisiana
Scio, Oregon
Westmoreland, Tennessee

We recommend Firefox
Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Submit an Article | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2015 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.

Hope for America