Flowers that grow on the beach

Native Hawaiian Flowers


‘Ākulikuli (sea purslane) is a salt-tolerant groundcover that creeps right up to the edge of sea-splashed cliffs. Its pale-pink, star-shaped flowers are pretty, but it’s the succulent leaves that savvy gourmets covet: they’re filled with vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.


A member of the rose family, ‘ūlei ranks among the loveliest of Hawaiian groundcovers. Its vinelike branches snake along the ground, bedecked in fragrant white blossoms. Hawaiians fashioned spears, fishnets, and backscratchers out of the strong, flexible wood.

Naupaka kahakai

Ubiquitous throughout the Islands, naupaka kahakai hedges have curious half-flowers tucked between their leaves. Naupaka kuahiwi, a similar species up on the mountain, has the same half-flower. Legends say the twin blooms represent separated lovers, doomed to live in opposite climes — one in the forest and one by the sea.


Lei makers collect as many as 800 delicate ‘ilima flowers to create the long, splendid necklaces once worn by Hawaiian royalty. This hardy shrub grows throughout the archipelago. In the harshest environments it lies papa (flat) against the ground.

Pōhuehue & Kauna‘oa

Beach morning glory, or pōhuehue, is shown here entangled with yellow strands of kauna‘oa (Hawaiian dodder). Both plants can be braided into lei and are said to be lovers who can’t bear to be apart. Surfers wishing for bigger swells will sometimes slap pōhuehue vines on the water for luck.

Convolvulus mauritanicus is one of those plants that always does a good job. It is hardy, attractive, humble and very giving.

Plant details

Common name:

convolvulus (not often called by its common name, ‘bindweed’)

Botanic name:

Convolvulus mauritanicus


Trailing perennial with small, oval leaves and soft, slender stems. The violet-blue, morning glory-like flowers appear in early spring and continue until early autumn.

Best climate:

Most areas of Australia, including warm protected sites in Hobart and the mountains.


spillover plant
ground cover plant
hanging baskets
coastal gardens

Good points:

flowers for most of the year
good in sun or shade
tolerates salt spray


A member of the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae). Although morning glories (Ipomoea) can be extremely invasive in warm zones, Convolvulus mauritanicus is of moderate vigour only and never likely to be a nuisance.


Convolvulus likes a sunny position and well-drained, coarse soil. Water in dry spells. Prune to control and shape as required.

Getting started:

Convolvulus mauritanicus is readily available at nurseries. Expect to pay about $10-$12 for 140mm (6″) pots.

What Is Beach Morning Glory: Growing Beach Morning Glories In Gardens

Ipomoea pes-caprae is a sprawling vine found on beaches from Texas across to Florida and up to Georgia. The flowers look similar to morning glory, hence the name beach morning glory, but the foliage is much different. It makes an excellent ground cover, with evergreen leaves and a quick growing nature. What is beach morning glory? We’ll delve into that question together along with some fun beach morning glory info.

What is Beach Morning Glory?

Beach morning glory is also called railroad vine due to its scrambling nature and ability to cover less used tracks and roadsides. It is adapted to coastal areas where sand is plentiful and soil is well draining. Salt, heat and wind don’t bother this plant and it is common to see it splayed across a dune in coastal regions. The large mats it forms help stabilize sand where it grows just above high tide.

Beach morning glory can exceed 33 feet (109 m.) in length. It is native to coastal regions of North America and pan-tropical globally. In the U.S., it is hardy to

zone 9 to 11. Leaves are 1 to 6 inches in length (3-14 cm.), double lobed, thick, fleshy and evergreen. The roots of this plant are often more than 3 feet (1 m.) into the sand. Flowers are funnel shaped, darker at the corolla and may be pink, reddish purple or dark violet.

The perennial vine is just 16 inches high (41 cm.) but creates a tangled, low growing thicket.

Beach Morning Glory Info

The tangled vines and deep taproot make growing beach morning glories perfect for stabilizing soil. Beach morning glories in gardens can perform as groundcovers. They are often seen tumbling in and over seawalls or along beach paths.

Propagation is through seed or cuttings. Seeds do not need a dormant period but the seed coat must be scarified before germination, which occurs in every season but winter. These remarkable vines need little nutrition and have a high drought tolerance. To establish beach morning glories in gardens, take a cutting and set it into moistened sand. The internodes will shortly send out roots. Set them 3 feet (.92 m) apart and keep plants moist for the first few months.

Beach Morning Glory Care

Gardeners growing beach morning glories can breathe a sigh of relief. These plants are practically fool proof once established. The biggest problem will be their rapid growth rate and spread, but if you have a large area to cover, they are an excellent plant.

Vines will scramble over other plants and need to be pruned away to prevent choking out other species. Overwatering should be avoided. Simply water regularly while the plant establishes and then leave it alone.

Beach morning glories are even unpalatable to many animals due to high levels of bitter white sap. If you have the space, this is a fun native plant that will provide yearlong color and texture.

NOTE: Before planting anything in your garden, it is always important to check if a plant is invasive in your particular area. Your local extension office can help with this.

Ipomoea pes-caprae Beach Morning Glory1

Edward F. Gilman22


The beach morning glory is an herbaceous vine that grows wild on ocean shores from Florida to Texas and Georgia (Fig. 1). This plant reaches a height of 4 to 6 inches, but the stems may creep along the ground to a length of 75 feet. It roots and occasionally branches from the nodes and develops a long, thick, starchy root. The 2 1/2- to 4-inch-long leaves are thick, smooth, and two-lobed; the leaf shape reminds one of a goat’s footprint or perhaps an orchid tree leaf. The beach morning glory is truly charming when in bloom. Funnel-shaped flowers that are 2 ½ to 3 inches wide occur in the summer and fall. The flowers are pinkish lavender with purple-red throats. They open in the early morning and close before noon each day that the plant is in bloom. Small, round seedpods that contain four velvety, dark brown seeds appear on this plant after flowering. Figure 1.

Beach morning glory

General Information

Scientific name: Ipomoea pes-caprae Pronunciation: ipp-oh-MEE-uh pess-kuh-PREE Common name(s): railroad vine, beach morning glory Family: Convolvulaceae Plant type: ground cover USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Fig. 2) Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round Origin: native to Florida Uses: ground cover Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant Figure 2.

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: depends upon supporting structure Spread: depends upon supporting structure Plant habit: spreading; prostrate (flat) Plant density: moderate Growth rate: fast Texture: coarse


Leaf arrangement: alternate Leaf type: simple Leaf margin: lobed Leaf shape: elliptic (oval) Leaf venation: pinnate Leaf type and persistence: evergreen Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches Leaf color: green Fall color: no fall color change Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: purple Flower characteristic: summer flowering; fall flowering


Fruit shape: round Fruit length: less than .5 inch Fruit cover: dry or hard Fruit color: unknown Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable Current year stem/twig color: green Current year stem/twig thickness: thick


Light requirement: plant grows in full sun Soil tolerances: acidic; alkaline; sand; loam; Drought tolerance: high Soil salt tolerances: good Plant spacing: 24 to 36 inches


Roots: not applicable Winter interest: plant has winter interest due to unusual form, nice persistent fruits, showy winter trunk, or winter flowers Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding Invasive potential: aggressive, spreading plant

Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

The beach morning glory is well adapted to beaches and coastal dunes. It is useful as a sand binder and ground cover, even on the ocean side of the first dune. They grow right down to the high tide mark on the beach. Plant on 3-foot centers to quickly form a ground cover. It may not be well suited for home landscapes because it grows too quickly and has a very open growth habit.

This full sun plant will prosper on most well-drained soils. It grows very rapidly and needs to be pruned and contained if planted in a landscape. To say the plant grows quickly is to preach the truth. The beach morning glory will tolerate very high levels of salt spray but cannot endure over watering. Basically, plant it, water a few times and leave the sprinkler off.

No pests or diseases are of major concern.


This document is FPS-283, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension office.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.

Beach morning glory or Goats foot

The Beach morning glory is a very fast growing trailing vine . It can be found on tropical dunes and beaches. Beach Morning Glory has shiny pink flowers. The seeds are disperged by water , fresh or the see. Its has an enourmous spread around the tropical world, it can be found on almost every tropical beach. The Goats foot is important as colonizer of the sandy beaches: The plants covers large areas and forms a rather continuous and thick mat that helps to keep the sand from moving : the roots holds prevents the sand from moving and the leaves protect the sand from strong wind.

the Goats foot or Beach morning glory

Adapted to a live on the beach

Beach Morning Glory isn’t capable to use salt water directly, but its deep, fleshy tap-roots form an extensive and deep running system caple of providing fresh water and are a holdfast against the forces of the wind. The evaporation is limited by the thick leaves (xerofyt) . The funnel-shaped flowers, tend to open early in the morning and close in the heat of the day. The leaves are also resistant againt salt spray. The fast growing rope-like stems are up to 5 meter long. Beach Morning Glory has only few predators that are capable to eat from the poisionous leaves: they contain the alkaloid ergotamine, a strong poison , especially for insects.

Beach morning glory on a tropical beach

A succesful beach plant

The plant is a colonizer, but has already colonized almost all the tropical beaches: it is the most important tropical beach plant. There a some good reasons for its succes story: Beach Morning Glory produces large amount of seeds, these seeds floats and are resistent against (salt) seewater. But the vegetative way of propagation is even more important: after an hurricane or tsunami the thick mat of the Beach Morning Glory is broken down completely. But these fast growing parts will float and are often capable to recolonize a new beach . A new frontier are railroads tracks : This is another hostile environment because of rocky railbedding , the mechanical removal and herbicidal spray.

Goats foot beneficial uses

The most important is the ability to prevent sand for moving. It forms humus , the start of other beach live. Those plants get a chanche because Beach Morning Glory also prevent the sands from burying those plants.

Beach morning glory reduces pain

There is attention for the farmacological compounts of the Beach Morning Glory. It was already known by ancient cultures , like the Aztecs, for its pain relieving properties, and is becoming more popular for the treatment of dolorous processes.(4) Probably because of inhibitory effects on prostaglandin synthesis. (5)

Beach morning glory in the garden

In desert lands the Beach morning glory can be seen as a garden plant, the flowers. The creeping stems, up to 5 ,meter long can be used to cover an ugly wall or fence.

Oceanic dispersal

Beach Morning Glory produces abundant amount of small seeds that are capable to float on the ocean, these seeds are called sea beans or drifting seeds. They are resistent against salt water, and can travel large distances transported by ocean streams. This is the way Beach Morning Glory reaches the beaches on remote tropical islands. The seeds are light and can also be transported locally by stormwind, and this way reach railway tracks. The vegatative propagation is more important for smaller distances: parts of large vines are brought by sea or stormwinds to other beaches.

Sea beans or drifting seed

Sea beans of Goats foot can stay for a long period floating in the ocean current and travel this way a large distance, reaching isoltad beaches. Shoreline species produce seeds that float for very long periods of time so that they are eventually entrapped by shoreline vegetation or deposited at the waterline. They then also need a long time to recover and start germination. Developing Goats foot obtain fresh water and mineral nutrients from a lens (soil layer) of fresh water (derived from inland rainfall) which literally floats above the denser salt water beneath the beach sand.

Sea beans on sea

It is estimated that tropical seeds found on European shores probably have been adrift for a year or longer. Sea-beans like Goats foot float because they have an internal air pocket within the seed. But their weight grows as some sea creatures (like barnacles and goose barnacles) and algae grow on their surface, in the end the trip stops by sinking because of increasing weight. Plant species that rely on ocean dispersal are rare, there are 250.000 plant species but only 250 produce drifting seeds that can survive an ocean trip.and only about half of these are known to produce seeds that can float in seawater for more than a month and still be viable.

Beach morning glory anatomical highlights


The Morning-Glory family or Ipomoae family is byfar the largest genus in the family Convolvulaceaeas or the bindweed or morning glory family. There are 55 genera in this family: There are 1650 members, mostly vines but even trees and shrubs.(1) Convolvulaceae mostly have an funnel-shaped symmetrical corolla or flower (1) and the flower petals are fused (3). The stem is winding, in the Ipomoea the winding is anticlockwise (4) , the leaves alternate (2).

Other members of the Ipomoae family :

Water spinach or Kangkong


1 subsp. brasiliensis
Flore de Madagascar et des Comores, Convolvulacées, vol. 171: Convolvulacées, p. 229 (2001)

2 Blanco, M., Flora de Filipinas (1877)

3 Isolation and identification of compounds with antinociceptive action from Ipomoea pes-caprae R Krogh, Die Pharmazie 01 Jun 1999

4 Isolation and identification of compounds with antinociceptive action from Ipomoea pes-caprae Krogh R. Die Pharmazie 1999

5 Compounds Inhibiting Prostaglandin Synthesis Isolated from Ipomoea pes-caprae. U. Pongprayoon et all Planta med 1991

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