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Water Spinach (Ipomoea aquatica, Convolvulaceae): A Food Gone Wild

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Title: Water Spinach (Ipomoea aquatica, Convolvulaceae): A Food Gone Wild
Authors: Austin, Daniel F.
Keywords: ethnobotany
Ipomoea aquatica
noxious weeds
aquatic plants
show 17 moreinvasive species
aquatic weeds
wetland plants
food crops
medicinal plants
functional foods
wild plants
introduced plants
plant pathogens
folk taxonomy
South East Asia
medicinal properties
insect pests

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Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Citation: Austin DF. 2007. Water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica, Convolvulaceae): a food gone wild. Ethnobotany Research & Applications 5:123-146.
Abstract: Water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica) has been considered native to Africa, Asia, and the southwestern Pacific Islands. The herbs have been a medicinal vegetable in southern Asia since at least A.D. 300, and perhaps since 200 B.C. People still gather plants from the wild and cultivate them. With European arrival in these regions in the late 1400s, they became aware of this medicinal food and began carrying water spinach around the world. As with other transported plants, Europeans took along some common names and cultural uses. With the later migration of people from Asian countries to other parts of the world, the food was imported into new areas. Doubt persists as to where the species was domesticated. Data from uses as food, regions of cultivation, medicinal use, phylogenetic studies, common names, and pathogens suggest that water spinach was first cultivated in southeastern Asia. The plants may have been domesticated in China and India, but the data are equivocal. The vegetable sometimes escapes from cultivation to become an ecologically invasive weed.
ISSN: 1547-3465
Appears in Collections:2007 - Volume 5 : Ethnobotany Research and Applications

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