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Botanical Name: Antigonon leptopus
Synonyms: A. leptopus Hook. & Arn.
Common Name: Coral creeper, Sandwich-Island creeper
Seeds collection period: Dec
Seeds longevity: 1-2 years
Antigonon leptopus is a fast-growing climbing vine that holds via tendrils, and is able to reach 25 ft or more in length. It has cordate (heart shaped), sometimes triangular leaves 2½ to 7½ cm long the flowers are borne in panicles, clusted along the rachis producing pink or white flowers from spring to autumn, it forms underground tubers and large rootstocks, it is a prolific seed producer, the seeds float on water, the fruit and seeds are eaten and spread by a wide range of animals such as pigs, raccoons and birds. The tubers will resprout if it is cut back or damaged by frost.
Antigonon leptopus was prepared for consumption by the aboriginal inhabitants of Baja California in a way reminiscent of popcorn. The seeds were toasted by placing them in a flat basket made of flexible twigs torn into several strips and woven to make a solid surface. On top of the seeds they would put live coals, and with both hands they would shake the basket so that the coals come up against the seeds, toasting them but not burning the basket. When the toasting is finished the burned out coals are removed and a major portion of the seeds are burst open exposing a white meal. Afterwards the seeds are separated from the husks from which they have come by dextrously tossing them into the air with the basket, just as wheat is winnowed in Spain. Thus cleaned they would grind and eat the prepared meal. They would also boil it and make fried cakes.