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Most species have spectacular, colorful flowers, and are often grown as ornamentals, and a number of cultivars have been developed. Their deep flowers attract large Lepidoptera – especially the Sphingidae, such as the pink-spotted hawk moth (Agrius cingulata) – or even hummingbirds.
The genus includes food crops; the tubers of sweet potatoes (I. batatas) and the leaves of water spinach (I. aquatica) are commercially important food items, and have been for millennia. The sweet potato is one of the Polynesian „canoe plants“, transplanted by settlers on islands throughout the Pacific. Water spinach is used all over eastern Asia and the warmer regions of the Americas as a key component of well-known dishes, such as canh chua rau muống (Mekong sour soup) or callaloo; its numerous local names attest to its popularity. Other species are used on a smaller scale, e.g. the whitestar potato (I. lacunosa) traditionally eaten by some Native Americans, such as the Chiricahua Apaches, or the Australian bush potato (I. costata).
Peonidin, an anthocyanidin potentially useful as a food additive, is present in significant quantities in the flowers of the ‚Heavenly Blue‘ cultivar.
Ipomoea sepiaria, is part of the Dashapushpam (Ten sacred flowers) in Kerala and is known as „Thiruthali“ in Malayalam.
Moon vine (I. alba) sap was used for vulcanization of the latex of Castilla elastica (Panama rubber tree, Nahuatl: olicuáhuitl) to rubber; as it happens, the rubber tree seems well-suited for the vine to twine upon, and the two species are often found together. As early as 1600 BCE, the Olmecs produced the balls used in the Mesoamerican ballgame.
The root called John the Conqueror in hoodoo and used in lucky and/or sexual charms (though apparently not as a component of love potions, because it is a strong laxative if ingested) usually seems to be from I. jalapa. The testicle-like dried tubers are carried as amulets and rubbed by the users to gain good luck in gambling or flirting. As Willie Dixon wrote, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, in his song „Rub My Root“ (a Muddy Waters version is titled „My John the Conquer Root“):
My pistol may snap, my mojo is frail
But I rub my root, my luck will never fail
When I rub my root, my John the Conquer root
Aww, you know there ain’t nothin‘ she can do, Lord,
I rub my John the Conquer root
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Jdeme sadit. Vždy udělej něco …jinak, pokud to neublíží druhému.