Ipomoea aquatica is a semiaquatic, tropical plant grown as a leaf vegetable. It is found throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, although it is not known where it originated. This plant is known in English as Water spinach, River spinach, Water morning glory, Water convolvulus, or by the more ambiguous names "Chinese spinach", "Swamp cabbage" and "Kangkong" in Southeast Asia. Occasionally, it has also been mistakenly called "kale" in English, although kale is a different plant belonging to the Brassica oleracea Acephala Group and completely unrelated to water spinach. It is known as phak bung in Thai, "rau muống" in Vietnamese, trokuon in Khmer and kangkung in Malay and Indonesian. In the Philippines a variety of Kangkong is grown in canals dug by the Americans during the occupation after the Spanish American war. Another variety in the Philippines that grows on land is called "Chinese Kangkong" in the Philippines as opposed to the variety that is grown in water that is simply called Kangkong or "native" Kangkong.
I. aquatica grows in water or on moist soil. Its stems are 2–3 metres (7–10 ft) or more long, rooting at the nodes, and they are hollow and can float. The leaves vary from typically sagittate (arrow head-shaped) to lanceolate, 5–15 centimetres (2–6 in) long and 2–8 centimetres (0.8–3 in) broad. The flowers are trumpet-shaped, 3–5 centimetres (1–2 in) diameter, usually white in colour with a mauve centre. The flowers can form seed pods which can be used for planting.
Ipomoea aquatica is most commonly grown in East and Southeast Asia. Because it flourishes naturally in waterways and requires little, if any, care, it is used extensively in Burmese, Thai, Lao, Cambodian, Malay, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine, especially in rural or kampung (village) areas.
The vegetable is also extremely popular in Taiwan, where it grows well. During the Japanese occupation of Singapore in World War II, the vegetable grew remarkably easily in many areas, and became a popular wartime crop.
In non-tropical areas it is easily grown in containers given enough water in a bright sunny location. It readily roots from cuttings.
Invasive species 
It has been introduced to the United States, where its quick growth rate has caused it to become an environmental problem, especially in Florida and Texas. It has been officially designated by the USDA as a "noxious weed". In Sri Lanka it invades wetlands. Its floating, long stems form dense mats which can block the flow of water and prevent passage.
Culinary uses 
The vegetable is a common ingredient in Southeast Asian dishes. In Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, the leaves are usually stir-fried with chili pepper, garlic, ginger, dried shrimp paste (belacan/terasi) and other spices. In Penang and Ipoh, it is cooked with cuttlefish and a sweet and spicy sauce.
Chinese cuisine (Chinese: 空心菜; pinyin: kōngxīncài; literally "hollow vegetable") has numerous ways of preparation, but a simple and quick stir-fry, either plain or with minced garlic, is probably the most common. In Cantonese, the water spinach is known as 蕹菜 (Jyutping: ung3 coi3, sometimes transliterated as ong choy). In Cantonese cuisine, a popular variation adds fermented bean curd. In Hakka cuisine, yellow bean paste is added, sometimes along with fried shallots.
In Cambodia, where it is called Trakuorn, kangkong is known to have a few types. The popular type is the usual local water plant, used in many traditional dishes. One type is known as Chinese Trakuon grown as a straight stalk plant from soil. This type is known to be used in stir fry with pork or just with marinated soy beans (sieng). The Khmer popular dish using kangkong is in sour soup with fish or chicken. Kangkong is also eaten raw or cooked along with other vegetables in dip dishes, e.g. toeuk kroeung (a sour/salty taste dish, with roughly minced fish mixed with lemon juice, crushed peanuts, basil and fish paste flavour).
In Laos, where it is known as pak bong (ຜັກບົ້ງ), and in Burma, where it is called gazun ywet (ကန်စွန်းရွက်; MLCTS: kancwan:rwak; [ɡəzʊ́ɴ jwɛʔ]), it is frequently stir-fried with oyster sauce or yellow soybean paste, and garlic and chillies.
In Vietnam, I. aquatica (rau muống) is a common ingredient and garnish in Vietnamese cuisine and was once served as a staple vegetable of the poor. In the South, the water spinach is julienned into thin strips and eaten with many kinds of noodles. It is also commonly cooked in a sour soup (Canh chua), with tomatoes, other vegetables, and some kind of protein. Rau Muống is also commonly sauteed with chopped garlic, oil (or pork fat) and fish sauce, and served as a side dish in many meals.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||79 kJ (19 kcal)|
|- Dietary fiber||2.1 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||315 μg (39%)|
|Thiamine (vit. B1)||0.03 mg (3%)|
|Riboflavin (vit. B2)||0.1 mg (8%)|
|Niacin (vit. B3)||0.9 mg (6%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.141 mg (3%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.096 mg (7%)|
|Folate (vit. B9)||57 μg (14%)|
|Vitamin C||55 mg (66%)|
|Calcium||77 mg (8%)|
|Iron||1.67 mg (13%)|
|Magnesium||71 mg (20%)|
|Manganese||0.16 mg (8%)|
|Phosphorus||39 mg (6%)|
|Potassium||312 mg (7%)|
|Sodium||113 mg (8%)|
|Zinc||0.18 mg (2%)|
|Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are relative to
US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
In the Philippines, kangkóng is usually sautéed in cooking oil, onions, garlic, vinegar, and soy sauce. This dish is called adobong kangkong. It is also a common leaf vegetable in fish and meat stews, such as sinigang. An appetizer in the Philippines, called crispy kangkong, uses the leaves coated with batter and fried until crisp and golden brown.
In Kuching, Hokkien Dielect called it Eng Cai. It is usually fried with fermented krill "belacan eng cai", boiled with preserved cuttlefish then rinsed and mix with spicy rojak paste "jiu hu eng cai", boiled eng cai also used to serve with fermented krill noodle "belacan bee hoon" and prawn noodle.
Medicinal uses 
Studies conducted with pregnant diabetes-induced rats have shown a blood sugar lowering effect of Ipomoea aquatica by inhibiting the intestinal absorption of glucose. This is very important in managing gestational diabetes and preventing side effects in mothers and their babies.
- http://www.filipinofoodrecipes.net/adobong_kangkong.htm[full citation needed]
- http://www.stuartxchange.org/Kangkong.html[full citation needed]
- http://www.kangkungking.com/2009/01/how-to-harvest-kang-kung-kong-seeds.html[full citation needed]
- http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=IPAQ[full citation needed]
- Gunasekera Lalith. Invasive Plants, A Guide to the Identification of the Most Invasive Plants in Sri Lanka, Colombo 2009.
- Nutritional composition of traditional Thai foods used local vegetables
- http://www.pinoyrecipe.net/crispy-kangkong-recipe-river-spinach/[full citation needed]
- http://reports.idrc.ca/en/ev-110412-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html[full citation needed]
- http://my.0163286699.com/2009/08/rojak-sotong-kangkung.html[full citation needed]
- http://www.seasiafood.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/prawn-noodle-300x224.jpg[full citation needed]
- http://www.stanford.edu/class/humbio103/ParaSites2002/fasciolopsiasis/trans.html[full citation needed]
- Sokeng, S.D.; Rokeya, B.; Hannan, J.M.A.; Junaida, K.; Zitech, P.; Ali, L.; Ngounou, G.; Lontsi, D. et al. (2007). "Inhibitory effect of Ipomoea aquatica extracts on glucose absorption using a perfused rat intestinal preparation". Fitoterapia 78 (7–8): 526–9. doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2007.06.011. PMID 17651914.
- Shivananjappa, Mahesh Mysore; Muralidhara (2012). "Dietary supplements of Ipomoea aquatica (whole leaf powder) attenuates maternal and fetal oxidative stress in streptozotocin-diabetic rats". Journal of Diabetes. doi:10.1111/j.1753-0407.2012.00210.x. PMID 22646693.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ipomoea aquatica|
- Germplasm Resources Information Network: Ipomoea aquatica
- Per DTI-NCR Permit No. 6284, Series of 2012.
- Multilingual taxonomic information from the University of Melbourne
- Water spinach nutritional information from Kasetsart University
- Photo of heart-shaped variety
- Aquatic, Wetland and Invasive Plant Particulars and Photographs
- USDA Noxious Weed Regulations (Possession in USA requires permit)
- Species Profile- Water Spinach (Ipomoea aquatica), National Invasive Species Information Center, United States National Agricultural Library. Lists general information and resources for Water Spinach.
- Helminths and Helminthiosis of Pigs in the Mekong Delta Vietnam with Special Reference to Ascariosis and Fasciolopsis buski Infection
- Ipomoea aquatica in West African plants - A Photo Guide.
|Wikispecies has information related to: Ipomoea aquatica|