Marpeļe (Ipomoea macrantha - Convolvulaceae)

Description: This native vine in the morning-glory family usually grows along the ground or sometimes up on to other plants. It can be somewhat woody and it produces a milky sap. The leaves are heart-shaped to roundish and about 8-20 cm (3-8 in) long. The white flowers are tube-shaped at their base and about 6-10 cm (2-4 in) long. The 2.5 cm (1 in) long, round fruit capsules contain four seeds.

Distribution: Marpeļe is found throughout the tropical Pacific. It is grows as a low-lying vine on beaches, or as a semi-woody creeper in the coastal forest. It has been reported from most of the atolls in the Marshall Islands and is sometimes a "weed" in or near taro pits (pat).

Uses: Marpeļe leaves are fed to pigs because it is believed that the meat of pigs that eat the leaves of this plant will not be greasy. Leaves of marpeļe are used to wrap foods such as bōb (Pandanus) and fish that are boiled or cooked in the um. A medicinal bath and drink are produced using the leaves of this plant. Juice extracted from the fruit is applied to burns, and long stems of marpeļe are used for clothes lines and jump ropes. This plant also has decorative uses.

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