Home' The River Weekly News : RWN 122515 Contents THE RIVER - DECEMBER 25, 2015
by Gerri Reaves
Railroad vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae)
is an evergreen perennial and one
of a dozen morning glories native
to Florida. It is also called goat's-foot
vine, beach morning glory and bayhops.
In the wild, this mat-forming vine is
found on beaches and on sand dunes
above the water line. Its seeds are dis-
persed by wind and water, and wherever
it takes root, it helps to prevent beach
It has high salt tolerance and has
evolved to withstand wind, salt spray,
heat, and brackish water. Therefore it's
an excellent choice for coastal land-
If you need a groundcover for a
sunny, dry, or sandy spot, this vine
might be the answer. It also can be
trained to cover a fence or trellis.
A fast grower, it sends out succulent
stolons, or runners, which creep along
the soil, rooting at the nodes and bind-
ing sand together. The word Ipomoea,
which means worm-like, refers to this
The plant grows to be about one and
one-half feet high and can be as long as
Starchy taproots extend deeply into
the soil -- three feet or more -- one
characteristic that makes it so drought
The thick, two-lobed leaves of two
to four inches long have a shallowly
notched apex and a leaf stem of about
six inches. Rounded or oblong, they are
folded along the midvein.
That notch gives them a shape
resembling a goat's footprint and the
term pes-caprae means "goat's foot."
They also resemble the leaves of the
non-native Hong Kong orchid tree.
The rosy pink or purple flowers are
about two to three inches wide with
five fused petals that form a trumpet-
shaped corolla. The flower's interior has
a lovely star-shaped pattern formed by
stripes radiating from the throat, which
is darker than the rest of the flower.
Flowers bloom all year, lasting only
a day, peaking in spring and summer.
They are a food source for caterpillars,
beetles, and grasshoppers.
Railroad vine also provides habitat
for several native species and attracts a
variety of pollinators.
It will tolerate a variety of soils,
including nutrient-poor soil, but will not
The small, round, hard, leathery fruit
contains four seeds.
Propagate this vine with cuttings or
The vines and roots are edible, but
only in very small quantities.
Medicinal uses include the treatment
of jellyfish stings with the milky juice in
the leaves. It is also used to treat fatigue,
arthritis, rheumatism, and as a diuretic.
And, it is traditionally used in spiritual
practices in some cultures.
Sources: Everglades Wildflowers
by Roger L. Hammer; 500 Plants of
South Florida by Julia F. Morton; A
Gardener's Guide to Florida's Native
Plants by Rufino Osorio; Florida, My
Eden by Frederic B. Stresau; Native
Florida Plants by Robert G. Haehle and
Joan Brookwell; Wildflowers of Florida
by Jaret C. Daniels and Stan Tekiela;
edis.ifas.ufl.edu; floridata.com; lee.ifas.
ufl.edu; miamidade.gov; regionalconser-
vation.org; and sms.si.edu.
Plant Smart explores the diverse
flora of South Florida.
Offered By Power
submitted by Cdr. Ron Terciak
The San Carlos Bay Sail & Power
Squadron, a unit of the United
States Power Squadrons serving
South Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach,
Bonita Springs and Estero, will be
offering America's Boating Course on
two Saturday mornings, January 9 and
16, the latter including the final exam.
Classes run from 8:30 a.m. to
approximately 12:30 p.m. with sign-in
at 8:15 a.m. on the first Saturday.
Topics will include hull design,
docking, anchoring, handling boating
emergencies, reading channel markers
and many other topics to make each
boating experience safer and more
enjoyable. Students who complete the
course are eligible to join the United
States Power Squadron at a discounted
rate offering 18 months of membership
for the price of 12 months.
This course is recognized by the
National Association of State Boating
Law Administrators (NASBLA) and
satisfies the Florida state requirement
that states anyone born after January 1,
1988 must pass a safe boating course
in order to operate a boat with more
than 10 horsepower. Each student will
receive a Florida Boater's card, valid for
life, from the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Commission, upon successfully
completing the class. The cost of
the course is $45 with a $20 additional
cost for a second person sharing the
The course will be taught at the San
Carlos Bay Sail & Power Squadron
classroom located at 16048 San Carlos
Blvd. at the corner of Kelly Road (across
from ACE Hardware).
Preregistration is required. Students
can register online at www.scbps.com
or by calling the office at 466-4040
and leaving their contact information.
Fast-growing native railroad vine is a member of the morning glory family
photo by Gerri Reaves
Pure Florida invites Southwest
Florida to spend the holidays on
the water by offering an array of
water adventures for visitors to enjoy on
Thursday, December 24 in Fort Myers,
offering sightseeing, river and sunset
cruises and pontoon boat rentals.
Guests visiting Pure Florida's Fort
Myers location will cruise aboard the
M/V Edison Explorer, drifting along
the Caloosahatchee River. Aboard the
vessel, guests are invited to relax and
enjoy the natural beauty of Southwest
Florida, and observe the wildlife native
to the region. Narration on local history,
wildlife and ecology is provided by Coast
Guard-certified captains, also master
naturalists. Drinks and snacks will be
available for purchase on-board.
The M/V Edison Explorer departs
from The Marina at Edison Ford,
located at 2360 W. First Street in Fort
Myers. Reservations are required.
For more information on Pure
Florida and for cruise pricing and regis-
tration, call Pure Florida at 919-2965 or
Pure Florida's will offer water adventures for the holidays at its Fort Myers location on
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