The Mexican creeper is a climbing part from the Polygonaceae family, native to Mexico. The tubers of this species are eaten as vegetables and in Mexico the seeds are prepared in the same way as popcorn. Its pink heart-shaped flowers have earned it the nickname the “Chain of Love”.
Antigonon (etymology debated), is perhaps from Greek anti-: meaning ‘against’ and gony: ‘knee / articulation’, in reference to its angled stems used to lean on other plants. Leptopus means “with slender stems”.
Description and flowering period
It is a climbing plant displaying rapid growth, which ultimately reaches heights of 10 to 12 meters. It has a strong rootstock and develops many underground tubers. Its stems are sarmentose, which means that the species emits long, thin, flexible whip-like branches designed to hold onto any neighbouring plants or objects. The leaves are cordiform (heart-shaped), veined, slightly crisped and deciduous. The white or pink flowers are borne in clusters called panicles and are extremely attractive to bees. The tepals (botanical blanket-term used to describe petals as well as sepals in flowers in which both look similar) swell and form a papery layer around the maturing fruits called achenes (dry fruits containing a single seed). The seeds are eaten and dispersed by animals such as wild boars, birds as well as raccoons.
It requires a water-retentive, preferably loamy soil. It is intolerant to temperatures below 1°C as well as altitudes over 1000 meters in its natural range.
It is used as a food-crop in Mexico. The tubers are prepared as root-vegetables and the seeds are popped and eaten as a snack just like pop-corn.
In some areas of Mexico, an infusion of the vine’s branches and roots with an added hint of cinnamon is used to fight coughs, fevers as well as sore throats.
Widely planted as an ornamental in subtropical and tropical areas, it has been know to become invasive.
Translated by: François Saint-Hillier - MNHN