In order to determine the susceptibility of Ipomoea cairica to herbivory, the compensatory growth and photosynthetic characteristics of I. cairica plants were measured after simulated herbivory by leaf trimming in three patterns: leaf-apex removal, leaf-edge removal, and perforation. The leaf-edge removal resulted in a significantly reduced total biomass and root biomass of the plants, but the leaf-apex removal and perforation had no significant influence on the plant growth. The defoliation patterns had significant effects on the photosynthesis of I. cairica. The net photosynthetic rate and stomatal conductance of the plants whose leaf edges had been removed were the highest among the three defoliation patterns and the fraction of absorbed light that is used in Photosystem II photochemistry increased greatly, while the fraction of light energy that is dissipated thermally decreased. The increased photosynthetic rate as a result of the leaf-edge removal treatment could be attributed to a decrease in stomatal limitation and an increase in the Rubisco content, as well as higher photosynthetic efficiency and less light energy being dissipated as heat. Increased photosynthesis in the plants whose leaf edges had been removed changed the carbon allocation and resulted in less root development. As the expansion of I. cairica primarily depends on clonal growth, smaller roots could limit its uptake of nutrients from the soil. These direct and indirect effects indicate that leaf-edgefeeding herbivores could have potential in the biological control of I. cairica.