Songgo langit, which is also known as rincik bumi in Indonesia, is scientifically known in Latin as Ipomoea quamoclit. Internationally this plant is known as cypress vine. Meanwhile, in India this plant is known as mayil manikkam or akasamulla.
Origin and History of Distribution
Cypress vine comes from the tropical region of South America, especially Mexico. This plant was then naturalized in various other tropical regions including Indonesia, India, Europe and North America.
Cypress vine began to be distributed in Europe and India in the 1500s, especially for its medical use (Austin, 2013). Then, from India this plant spread to Australia and Indonesia, including Sulawesi, the Sunda mainland, and Kalimantan (Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, 2022). However, now this plant is more popular as an ornamental plant and weed.
Growth and Shape Description
Cypress vine is a climbing plant from the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae) which is an annual plant. The main character of this plant is its star-shaped flowers, scarlet red, pink, or white, and small in size. The flowers attract birds and butterflies to come and stop by.
Cypress vine can spread easily through seed distribution with a height that can reach up to 609 cm. The stems are not sturdy enough which means they need support to grow upwards.
Its smooth, long, green, fern-like leaves will bud from direct sunlight during the day but expand after sunset.
This plant grows well in full sun in soil that requires good drainage with adequate moisture. Cypress vine can tolerate drought conditions, wet, and dry soil. However, cypress vine is said to be moderately toxic to dogs, cats, and horses (North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox, 2023).
Cypress Vine as Weed
Cypress vine is declared an invasive weed in several countries such as Australia, India, the United States, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Brazil. As an agricultural weed, cypress vine has many negative impacts on peanut, cotton, and orange plantations.
In Australia, this plant has stunted and outcompeted native trees and shrubs and is becoming increasingly problematic, especially in the Northern Territory where it has covered grasslands. In regional Queensland, it attacks mangroves, rainforests, and eucalyptus. In the United States, this plant is listed as a noxious weed and frequently invades agricultural land, secondary forests, roadsides, and disturbed areas. Meanwhile, in Brazil, cypress vine is listed as a "noxious weed" (Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, 2023).
Ingredients and Benefits of Cypress Vine for Health
There has not been much research on this plant so clinical trials on its beneficial contents are not widely known by the public. On the other hand, in India Jaseela N.M. in his research journal in 2022 stated that cypress vine is a traditional herbal plant that is widely used to treat hemorrhoids, wounds, diabetes and cancer. In Ayurveda, it is stated that this plant is not only used to treat various diseases but is also important in making several medicinal products.
Meanwhile, in Siddha medicine, a decoction of the leaves and stems is used to treat fever and diabetes. Not only that, this plant has also been used for the treatment of snake bites and bloody coughs, laxative, antidiabetic, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-oxidant activity.
Cypress vine is said to contain several chemical elements, namely alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, saponins, carbohydrates, terpenoids, and tannins. Through research conducted by Jaeela N.M, it is also known that the cypress vine plant, through clinical trials on extracts from the leaves, can produce anti-cancer activity. The overall extract from the parts of the plant can produce anti-diabetic and insecticidal, and anti-microbial activities.