Nature conservation

Threatened species

Silky Cow-Vine - profile

Indicative distribution

   Loading map...
The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Ipomoea polymorpha
Conservation status in NSW: Endangered
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 20 Oct 2020


Non-twining annual forb or creeper, with stems covered with white hairs and arising from tuberous roots. Leaves elliptic, 1.5-6 cm long, 0.5-2.5 cm wide, coarsely lobed or toothed mainly near the base, the tip rounded. The flowers are pink and trumpet-shaped, to 12 mm long and borne singly on short stalks in the leaf axils. Fruit a spherical capsule splitting into 4 segments, containing 3-4 downy seeds each 4-5 mm long.


Restricted to the far north-western corner of NSW, occurring north from east of Tibooburra. Also found in the Burnett district of south-eastern Qld, the NT, SA and the Kimberley region of WA.

Habitat and ecology

  • Associated species include Eucalyptus populnea, Ironwood, Melaleuca leucodendron, Eremophila freelingii and Senna oligophylla.
  • Grows in sandy, rarely clay, soils in open Acacia and Eucalyptus communities. It occurs in a variety of habitats including red sand ridges, small depressions and ephemeral creeks in Mulga communities.
  • Flowers throughout the year, but mainly autumn. Flowering and fruiting is also recorded from February to September.
  • The tuberous roots of Ipomoea polymorpha can be eaten and were an important item in the diet of Aboriginal people. The roots were eaten after roasting in coals and were occasionally pounded into a paste. The plant is said to ooze a milky substance when cut.
  • Has been recorded from disturbed sites such as an open area above a creek, at roadsides on gravel, on the edge of an eroded slope and growing with Dodonaea spp.
  • A relatively uncommon and infrequent plant which appears in small clumps in good seasons after heavy summer rainfall. Occurs in populations as rare (only one or two plants), scattered and occasional, to common and frequent.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Channel CountryBulloo Known None
Channel CountryBulloo Dunefields Predicted None
Channel CountrySturt Stony Desert Known None
Other StateSA Known None
Simpson Strzelecki DunefieldsStrzelecki Desert Known None