DR. RODEL G. MAGHIRANG of UP Los Baños gave us interesting facts about an indigenous vegetable found in the Ilocos and other places in the country. This is what Ilocanos call Kapas-kapas, botanically known as Telosma produmbens. Dr. Maghirang led a team of researchers who made a study of this native vegetable funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of agriculture.
Kapas-kapas is a personal favorite vegetable of ours that we used to gather from vines that grew on trees for support in the wild. We don’t remember anybody cultivating it like other vegetables.
Anyway, here are interesting facts culled from the report of Dr. Maghirang and company. Kapas-Kapas is also found in Vietnam, and did you know that in that country they have isolated an intensely sweet glucoside with a sweet intensity 1000 times higher than glucose? The ethanolic extract of the leaves was also found to have an anti-diabetic potential.
In Ilocos Norte where we come from, immature fruits are used in a soupy dish called “dinengdeng”, together with other vegetables like okra, squash, string beans and others. It is also cooked with other vegetables in a less soupy dish called “inabraw.” The flowers are also prepared as salad.
Kapas-kapas is also used in folk medicine. A decoction of kapas-kapas leaves is used to cleanse or treat wounds, scabies and ulcers. The leaves are also applied to the forehead to treat headache. In Vietnam, the whole plant is used as a substitute for licorice due to its sweet taste.
Kapas-kapas comes in a variety of fruit sizes. There are also types that are more prolific than others. There is no recommended variety so far but research is ongoing with respect to varietal selection and crop improvement. Propagation is by seed and stem cuttings.
By the way, the other members of Dr. Maghirang’s research team include MCPL Bartolome, JC Bengod, CFL Caramihan, VA Ladia Jr. IJW Madrid, CD Oraye, GS Rodulfo and AQC Sabanal. Photos provided by the team.