Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Railroad Vine - Ipomoea brasiliensis   (L.) Sweet
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Section 6 » Family Convolvulaceae
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Author(L.) Sweet
DistributionKnown in NC only from Carteret County, at Fort Macon State Park. This is a split from the pantropical I. pes-caprae. Weakley (2018) states "The records in the Carolinas may reflect the periodic arrival of sea-borne seeds." Thus, there is some question as to whether this should be considered native in the Carolinas, though the map in his flora shows it as a native species.

This species ranges north to coastal NC, and south to southern FL and west to TX, as well as farther south into the Neotropics; this is the New World split of I. pes-caprae.
AbundanceExtremely rare, and probably very ephemeral in occurrence. Beach species can easily disappear completely after a year, or may re-colonize the same or adjacent areas in future years. The NCNHP has it as a Watch List species, but as W4 (perhaps not native).
HabitatThis is a species of ocean beaches and adjacent dunes.
PhenologyBlooms in summer and fall, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a fairly robust herbaceous vine, up to about 8-10' long, often rooting at nodes. It has numerous alternate leaves, which are shiny and thick, and an odd shape. The leaf blade (about 3-4" long) is oblong-elliptic, with double (rounded) lobes at the tip, rather than a single tip; also the base is lobed or cordate. The leaves often are somewhat folded "down the middle" along the midrib. At some nodes grow the flowers, each the typical funnel-shaped form and about 3" across, pink to lavender, with a dark red or purple center. The species can grow in tangled mats such that you can trip on the stems -- they do root at the nodes -- and thus it appears to be an exotic species where seen, whether it really is or not.
Taxonomic CommentsSee Distribution. This species complex was not mentioned in RAB (1968), and apparently the Carolina occurrences are fairly recent.

Other Common Name(s)Bay Hops
State RankS1
Global RankG5
State StatusW4
US Status
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Matt Windsor2002-08-02. Fort Macon State Park CarteretBIPhoto_natural
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