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PlantFiles: Air Potato
Dioscorea bulbifera

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Family: Dioscoreaceae
Genus: Dioscorea (dy-oh-SKOR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: bulbifera (bulb-EE-fer-uh) (Info)

28 members have or want this plant for trade.

Category:
Vines and Climbers

Height:
over 40 ft. (12 m)

Spacing:
3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

Danger:
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Pale Green
Green

Bloom Time:
Late Fall/Early Winter

Foliage:
Grown for foliage
Herbaceous
Shiny/Glossy-Textured
Veined

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Flowers are fragrant
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
From bulbils

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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There are a total of 22 photos.
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Profile:

15 positives
9 neutrals
31 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Negative amscram On Jul 8, 2014, amscram from Baton Rouge, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Air potato started growing in the area between my house and the neighbor's place about five years ago (don't know how it got there), and was scrambling up the crepe myrtles. The extra leaves added to the wind resistance of the myrtles (not good during hurricanes and high winds!). I decided to eradicate it. Well, it's taken three years of diligently pulling up the sprouts, but I think I've finally done it. Not one came up this spring. So it can be done, but you've got to be patient and keep at it. Plus, it was an area of only maybe 300-400 square feet total. As many folks have said, if you live in the humid subtropical South, do not plant this.

Neutral ransom3 On Jan 31, 2013, ransom3 from Zephyrhills, FL wrote:

It grows heavily around here, but I do not find it impossible to get rid of as many Floridians say. The plants are very easy to pull up and if you rake up all the tubers that have fallen, then they are gone. Problem solved.

Positive Allenph On Jul 22, 2012, Allenph from High Springs, FL wrote:

I have been looking for a Dioscorea ALATA (not bulbifera) for months. They taste exactly like a potato . Bulbifera is POISONOUS and the underground tubers are actually "adventurous air potatoes" you can tell which one you have simply by looking at the leaves. Bulbifera has staggered leaves while the alata has paired leaves. I cultivate the alata here in Florida and have been for years. I use them for everything from flour for bread to just a normal substitute for potatoes. IF you put work into it they won't spread. I recommend digging an unfenced plot in the middle of a field with nothing for it to climb on. This way your potatoes stay manageable and the tubers don't get mangled and nasty looking. Simply kill anything that escapes the hole. Just to be on the safe side once I harvest every year I burn everything but the tuber which I replant for next year. If your careful the alata can be a wonderful and delicious plant.

Negative HL_Nursery777 On Jul 3, 2012, HL_Nursery777 from Dunnellon, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

YIKES! That vine that ate the Kudzu! These things are crazy! I have watched over the years a field that is the size of a few acres becoming blanketed by this weed over, and over, and over. But wait, I must tell you the story of this field first.
In 2004, the storms came, and went. These stroms blew all the invasive's seeds right to this very field. (This field was not infested before the storms.) I now call it "the battleground" beacuse that is just what it is, all sorts of invasives competing for sunlight, soil, and space. This field has been mowed around so they are all limited to this space. The field at least consists of these invasives:
Air Potato, Kudzu, Skunk Vine, Old world climing fern (The old world climing fern just showed up in the middle of nowhere, and is gaining speed) Cogon Grass, Non- Native Lantana, and a few others. Well guess what?
The Air Potato is killing the Kudzu by mass numbers!
I wish I could tell everything about the field here, it is intresting to see what invasives are the worst! I might post something in my daves garden blog that is under development about it one day! Overall message: This one might be the worst of ALL invasives here in Florida!

Happy Gardening!

Dustin

Negative Horologium On Jun 6, 2012, Horologium from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant is evil objectified.

The home we are currently renting is located next to a house which was owned by an elderly lady who died, and whose lawn service was only going through the motions (doing the bare minimum needed to keep the place presentable). I don't know if it was planted deliberately or was an accidental growth, but this plant has crossed the fenceline and I have been kept busy digging up newly sprouted tubers, and cutting back the horrible, snarled vines. I actually went into her back yard on Monday and pulled out three lawn-and-leaf bags full of air potato vines, trying to pull out the tubers as well. I found three dead shrubs/small trees which were simply serving as trellises for this noxious weed. While cleaning out the mess from the air potato, I also came across a Chinese tallow plant (another exotic invasive) which was removed along with the air potato. I have been collecting the potatoes whenever I find them, because the only to ensure that they will not sprout is to freeze them. Otherwise they will sprout at whatever landfill they occupy.

Positive leita On Jun 2, 2012, leita from Rockport, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I'll add a positive review of this plant. I pulled up a sprig growing in Rockport, TX three years ago and planted it to twine up an old oak tree. The leaves are indeed beautiful and it gave me a handful of seeds. It died off after a cold snap in winter. I planted the seeds the following spring and they all died during last summer's record-breaking heat and drought.
I agree under good conditions in places like Florida, they can be a nuisance, but here in S. Texas the weather keeps them from becoming invasive.

Negative gaelen38 On Jan 16, 2012, gaelen38 from Zephyrhills, FL wrote:

I live in Zephyrhills, FL. and i brought home a couple of "Kudzu" potato's a few years ago. All this has done is propagate over and over from every potato that develops on the vine. The reason it kills tree's and shrubs is because it grows so well in the humidity and shade, it also sucks the water out of the ground taking it away from other plants you want to keep and filters out the essential and beneficial sunlight that normal plants crave. Once you have it, it's yours forever, and keeping up with the potato's is a losing battle! Even the tiniest node will produce a plant that grows 60 to 80 feet into the sky, up tree trunks or anything for it to climb on, and as stated by others, it WILL take over your other plants and KILL them! I DO NOT recommend planting this ANYWHERE because you will NEVER do enough to get rid of it !
The other really invasive plants, is the "Brazilian Pepper Bush" which has dark beautiful dark green leaves, and the bright red seeds it produces will take over your yard where-ever the seeds fall in the fall. I hope you will take a second look and think twice before you introduce this plant to your yard, because it's just not worth the time and trouble that it takes to remove it!

Negative lclorraine On Oct 27, 2011, lclorraine from Knoxville, TN wrote:

Listen, Dave's Garden, it is totally irresponsible of you not to have clear postings of information on plants that are non-native (exotic) INVASIVE species on your web site. You post these plants as if they are just like native plants or innocuous nursery stock. In reality, they are listed by various organizations as a threat to native biodiversity. This species is listed by the Exotic Pest Plant Council. It is listed as NOXIOUS in Alabama and Florida and as the climate warms (and it is warming, folks), you people who Love this plant up in more northern climates may find, like we have here in the south, that you've made the worst mistake of your life bringing this thing into your life. GET RESPONSIBLE IN YOUR PLANTINGS. FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE INASIVE EXOTIC SPECIES AND DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO ERADICATE THEM. And for god's sake, don't sell them and don't plant them. I work in the environment and spend a lot of my time trying to keep these types of plants out of the last great natural areas this country has. These species are destroying our native heritage and wildlife. Please, please, please, please. Review your web site and post alerts for all species not native to North America and ESPECIALLY all INVASIVE exotics.

Negative nel5397 On Jul 18, 2011, nel5397 from Groveland, FL wrote:

This stuff is just as bad as kudzu. It grows 6 to 10 inches a day in the springtime until it reaches 60 ft. It produces tubers in Sept. when the days are as long as the nights.

Neutral luciee On Mar 12, 2011, luciee from Hanceville, AL (Zone 7a) wrote:

Since this is invasive plant week, I am glad to see all this info. I sure would not plant this at my house. Luciee

Positive Munga On Feb 22, 2011, Munga from Weatherford, TX wrote:

I live in North Central Texas and the Air Potato grows very well here. They are NOT invasive or problematic here. In fact, I grow them for the foliage because my air potato vines do not produce a good crop of "tators". The largest one I've ever had was about the size of a quarter and the largest crop was only three on one plant. I have not had any problems with them spreading. Our climate is much too dry and arid. I'm sure they are a great nuisance in more tropical climates but there is absolutely no danger of them being that way here. I am hoping to find someone willing to trade with me.

Negative nativelyeager On Dec 11, 2010, nativelyeager from Brooksville, FL wrote:

Air potato is a nightmare and anyone who cares at all about the natural environment or getting along with neighbors will never plant this. It is INVASIVE to the worst degree in Florida's tropical, subtropical, and southern temperate areas. The cost in time and dollars to taxpayers and private property owners is enormous and increasing. Sacrificing your garden and nearby natural areas to this plant is not worth it on any level just because it is an 'interesting' plant.

Positive eatmyplants On Sep 24, 2010, eatmyplants from Comanche county, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I always wanted to try this plant and had to buy a few bulbs from an ebay seller to get a start. I planted about 20 bulbs in late April 2010. It took about 2 weeks or more for them to germinate but I got almost 100% germination. They grew fairly slowly at first and about the time they were taking off, the hot weather hit and they slowed down a lot. It was very hard to keep them watered because of the pure sand they are planted in, even with heavy mulch. I planted them all on a chain link fence except for one in a small pot with a stick in the middle. I think only two have survived on the fence and the one in the pot survived well and did the best. Just two days ago I noticed it made around 10 potatoes. I promptly planted them in the ground. I think this plant doesn't like extreme heat and will do better now that cooler fall temps are here. I plan to keep trying. I ate one and it tasted like a water chestnut. They are not poisonous.

Neutral jamesleesmith On Aug 13, 2010, jamesleesmith from Lexington, AL wrote:

I have had this plant on my farm for 3 years. It is wild, I did not plant it. This year it bloomed and fruited. All the info that I find says that it will not bloom or bear fruit this far north. I live in Alabama, 90 miles south of Nashville, TN. I am surprised by this plant's presence, and the verdict is still out. I am Cherokee and am studying edible wild plants. I hear that this potato is both poisonous and edible, does any have guidance here? Thanks.

Negative HolyChickin On May 7, 2010, HolyChickin from Fort Lauderdale, FL wrote:

NASTY PLANT!

This vine was growing in a park across the street from my house and killed pretty much every tree in there by choking them to death. It was pretty sad to see all of those trees gone. Now of course, it is starting to sprout up around the yard. I kicked it old school and yanked some up yesterday. But there were a few that wouldn't budge!

I read that Round-up will work too. Gonna try that and see what happens! Hopefully, by doing my little part I will keep then from spreading some more and killing off any more trees. There are some pretty old Banyan trees in my neighborhood... it would be sad to see them killed off too.

If you are in Florida, please do the rest of the state a favor and DO NOT grow this plant. As pretty as you think it might be, it's choking out our forests. It can wipe out several acres in a matter of months. It is said it can grow 8 inches a day!! There are plenty of other vines that are even prettier and won't harm the environment.

Negative dhemi On Mar 30, 2010, dhemi from Saint Petersburg, FL wrote:

YES, this is a very pretty vine in the beginning. Just wait a few years and you will have the largest battle on your hands that you've ever experienced! That's why I'm looking it up. Kills everything in it's path. You have to stand guard, day and night to control it. Maybe the Northerners don't have the problem but don't even think about starting it in the south. Birds or kids throwing the potatoes started ours! just an FYI

Neutral billcolliver On Nov 30, 2009, billcolliver from Slidell, LA wrote:

Found a vine on the railroad property north of slidell, la. across the street from my house. Asked the wife about it and she recognized it. That's how I came to this forum. Nice looking vine. Maybe free food!

Negative rbarzilla On Jun 24, 2009, rbarzilla from Houston, TX wrote:

Horribly invasive

Positive hobbyodlaren On Oct 28, 2008, hobbyodlaren from Link
Sweden (Zone 5b) wrote:

I grow this in my porch in a big pot every summer, and it is my most beautiful climber, no bugs or other disease seems to like the plant. I think not it can be invasible in my country. Its to cold here. I ONLY WHISH I could get a bulb of Dioscorea discolor also to grow beside this in my porch.
Lovely plant.

Positive BayAreaTropics On Sep 5, 2008, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

All those negatives by the southeasteners should encourage Californians to TRY IT!..a very attractive vine with large pleated,dark green leaves.Moderate grower outdoors in the bay area, I grew it originally in a greenhouse where it was very fast. The problem for Californians is the brown snail will eat every part of this plant. After a good first year,the pests ate too much of the spring growth and my young vine was killed.
It really is a very nice potted plant also with hanging 'potatos'
As you might think a yam relative with hot and wet/humid needs isnt going to become invasive in California. Keeping it going year to year isn't easy.

Negative seatick On Sep 5, 2008, seatick from Fruitland Park, FL wrote:

I cannot say enough about this most INVASIVE of plants in my attempt to discourage anyone from growing it.

I acquired a lovely 3 acre CLEAR lot with naturally moist, fertile soil. I wanted to grow something and I thought the vines I had seen growing wild in the ditches with the heart-shaped leaves would look nice and lend an air of "quick" fix for my naked land.

WHAT A HUGE MISTAKE!!! I spent the next 30 years battling this plant as I watched it quickly take over every square inch of land.... the house, trees, EVERYTHING!!! Hundreds of dollars were spent on herbicides in my attempt to rid my property of this PEST. I spent thousands of hours with a machete in hand cutting, ripping, pulling,....... ANYTHING to try and rid my land of this vine.

Every single potato, no matter how tiny (they could be the size of a pea) grew and flourished. The underground tubers grew to weigh 20 lbs. or more. The squirrels carried the fruits all over the property and onto the neighbor's land.

The large, strong vines grew from one treetop to the next and eventually covered the whole place in a blanket of vines. During the hurricanes of '04 all it took was one or two trees to start falling and the domino effect went into play with the common "link" being their binding together with this vine. We lost almost every single tree in our yard.

Anyone who is even considering growing this vine is welcome to come view some areas of Central Florida and see what can happen in a very short time when this thing gets busy. You can even come see what it has done to my once beautiful, clean, CLEAR 3 acres of land, just be sure to bring plenty of Round-Up, some machetes and pack a huge lunch and plan on staying awhile as you can help me try to eradicate this horrid pest from my yard.

This gets top vote as the absolute most invasive, noxious exotic EVER!! Anyone who gets this thing loose in their yard, I feel for you and you are going to be facing a virtual losing battle as you try to control, contain and eradicate it from your land. Good luck cause you are going to need it!!!

Negative southernjenny On Aug 11, 2008, southernjenny from Bloomington, IN wrote:

I wouldn't plant that vine if I were you. I got it in my yard because of rescuing some heirloom plants from a construction site. Unfortunately I didn't recognize it before it established itself under my beautiful mock orange hedge. I have battled it for the last 10 years in my yard as it tries to creep through my grass and vines up my hedges and trees. Unfortunatly now it has spread to my two neighbor's yards and I feel very guilty about it. I can now recognize it as readily as poison ivy and have the same reaction to it.
Rush for the chemicals! Kill! Kill!

There are lots of other pretty vines that won't take out the native habitat if it escapes your lawn, please consider them instead before all your neighbors hate you like mine does. Lest you think that this is non-invasive in the North, I will tell you I live in Southern Indiana!

Negative Tetrazygia On Jul 10, 2008, Tetrazygia from Miami, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

Highly invasive in Florida. Despite what some may want to think, it does take over natural environments, and is very much subtropical Florida's version of kudzu.

Comments [advocating planting it] show nothing short of a full disregard of natural environments and law, considering this plant is listed on every invasive list there is for Florida and is illegal to possess. But congratulations to the author! That post has now been memorialized in a Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council paper about Air Potato.

According to that same paper, "Air potato causes ecological damage by climbing other vegetation and forming dense canopies that shade out, and may cause the collapse, of native plants (Gordon et. al., 1999; Schmitz et al., 1997; Schultz, 1993). Air potato is listed by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council as a Category I invasive plant--species which are altering native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives."

Air potato was introduced into Florida in 1905, and in just those hundred years has spread into nearly all parts of Florida, from the Panhandle to the Keys, taking over native hammocks along the way. It is a state listed noxious weed, and is illegal to introduce, multiply, possess, move, or be released except with permit from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Positive parrotma32578 On Jun 26, 2007, parrotma32578 from Niceville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I adore my air potato vines! I keep a really close eye on all plants in my yard (in other words, I don't have a life...LOL). I check out every plant (100's) every day. I watch every twist and curve of my air potato vines and direct them on the paths I want using hardware, rods, posts, etc. I have this vine in numerous areas of my yard: over my arbor, encircling my waterfall and fountain, up the ladders to my granddaughter's tree house, up all 4 legs of my wooden swing, encircling wooden landscaping fence sections, etc. Strays are promptly dug up and placed in areas where they can be more appreciated. Look at the symmetry of the leaves and the veining--they are stunning.

Neutral WUVIE On May 29, 2007, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

I can't give this vine a negative because I do not have the same experience everyone else does. It climbs on my chain link fence in a few sections, but seems very mild. Every so often I yank out a section but would hardly call it work.

It is a pretty vine with bright color, so I don't make a big deal out of removing it from my garden area. In comparison to the other potato vine I grow, this one pales greatly.

It dies back with the winter and has to start all over again the next spring.


Negative Thebestgardner On Apr 28, 2007, Thebestgardner from Miami, FL wrote:

I live in Miami, Florida and have thousands of these plants growing on an acre that I have just purchased.

I am a SLAVE to them !!!

For those of you who are growing them for beauty and live in Florida you can go to jail for them. Get on the Internet and see that cities have regular "collections" and every one you have collected you should burn.

Negative pmgflowers On Apr 7, 2007, pmgflowers from Decatur, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

The untended yard that came along with the old (ca 1920s) house I purchased in Decatur, Georgia has been a challenge to tame (I haven't won yet). The privet, bamboo, English ivy, and wild violets all combined have not caused me nearly as much misery and heartache as the air potato. The harder I fight it, the stronger it grows. This year I'm going to try putting sheets of landscape cloth underneath the vines that will inevitably return, and gather the potatoes daily. (Last year I went out every day and picked them off the ground, but it's impossible to get them all, once they hit the dirt.) All I want is to give my cannas and daylilies a fighting chance.

Negative windystout On Jan 8, 2007, windystout from Safety Harbor, FL wrote:

This is very evasive weed of which the state of Florida is attemping to eradicate. It is on their "noxious weed" list..The
plant is very difficult to get rid of once it takes over. It threatens Florida' s natural hammocks and hardwood forests and is very toxic to the wildlife..Please , Please to not contribute to the problem of "it takeover of our environment" by cultivating and purposely growing this noxious weed.

Positive corgimom On Dec 27, 2006, corgimom from Pontotoc, MS (Zone 7b) wrote:

I have grown this plant for years and have never found it to be invasive. It has never come back from either roots or potatoes for me ! I let this grow up a trellis each year and it has never strayed. I always tell people that get a potato from me that it is invasive in some areas.

Neutral frostweed On Dec 19, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Air Potato Dioscorea bulbifera is naturalized in Texas and other States and is considered an invasive plant in Texas.

Positive TIMESOY On Sep 30, 2006, TIMESOY from Tampa, FL wrote:

My experience with Dioscorea bulbifera has been very positive.

This beautiful green, rapidly growing vine gives a lush ropical rainforest appearance to my Florida garden. It thrives in deep shade and if there is nothing to climb, will provide a wonderfully dense groundcover (do not walk on it frequently.)

Those who prefer to micro-control their environments may use exaggerated descriptions such as "invasive", "noxious" and "damaging to the ecosystem (How?!) but this plant can be easily contained in your garden with the usual gardening practices of trimming and uprooting every few days if you wish, just as you would with any plant.


Editor's Note

Dioscorea bulbifera is classified as a noxious weed in both Florida and Alabama.
Positive robinng On Aug 7, 2006, robinng from Sabah
Malaysia wrote:

I was given some bulbs of Dioscorea bulbifera by a friend about 3 years ago. I was told by him it's call "Ah shou wu" in Chinese. Direct translated means something like Mr. Black Head, because it is believed that this plant is used as a herb to prevent the growth of grey hair if consumed regularly. As the Chinese have black hair, thus "Mr. Black Hair." The potatoes are not only edible, but very tasty when cooked as soup. I love it so much, so I saved one and planted it on my fence. Unfortunately, before it could bear any potatoes, it was destroyed by my dog. It is definately edible.

Neutral princessnonie On Jul 1, 2006, princessnonie from New Caney, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Zone 8b they freeze to the ground, but return..Mine are in shade and arn't very aggressive, just producing a few potato bulbs..A novelty for the grandchildren and no problem so far..

Negative Linnilu On Jun 21, 2006, Linnilu from Lakeland, FL wrote:

I have just spent a full day pulling/digging potatoes out of our St. Augustine lawn. Our neighbor's empty lot has been completely overrun by these terrible vines and have been encroaching on our property for a couple of years. We didn't mind, at first.

Before we realized what was happening (because we thought they were so pretty growing up the trees) our beautiful TALL tree line between the two lots has been completely eliminated. At first, we thought they had some type of disease or maybe a worm infection. Right before our eyes, THE VINES CHOKED THE LIFE RIGHT OUT OF THE CEDARS AND OAKS. Now I feel like I'm "on a mission" to rid our property of these.

Every weekend for the past two months I have pulled vines and potatoes, as well as spraying everything available in the stores.

Unfortunately, the man next door doesn't even know his property and trees have been destroyed because he never checks on the lot. I've been spraying his lot too because I know if I don't kill his, those aggravating potatoes will just come on over to our property AGAIN!

Negative paleolith On Mar 26, 2006, paleolith from Tallahassee, FL wrote:

This noxious invasive is probably the most frightening of the many invasives in my yard (in Tallahassee). If a neighbor planted it intentionally, I'd seriously consider suing. For those who think they can control it, think again -- all it takes is a kid grabbing a few of the tubers and throwing them around in the woods. This thing kills trees.

The back and side of my yard are attacked. Both neighbors dislike it, but both have even less time than I do to attack it. One lets me go into her yard to pull it, but the other owner rents the house to people who have dogs, and so far I cannot work on that source.

Please, do not even plant air potato in Ohio or other northern states. If one tuber falls in the storm sewer, it will end up in the river and could well sprout in the Atchafalaya basin.

Edward

Negative digitalbeachbum On Feb 26, 2006, digitalbeachbum from Longwood, FL wrote:

This "weed" is the most horrible thing I've dealt with and it reminds me of Kudzu (from the I-95 corridor). It has taken over the small wet land behind our house and has completely destroyed the Florida pine trees that are ten or twelve stories tall.

We had our first "air potato" roundup today and we gathered almost 500 lbs of potatoes. The largest sizes were larger than a softball and as small as a corn kernel.

Any person who thinks the Air Potato is a nice, pleasant, non-invasive plant should stop eating the potatoes because they are poisonous and obviously impaired your judgment.

Negative Taylored On Oct 21, 2005, Taylored from Brenham, TX wrote:

I'm really glad to have seen all the comments on this plant. I got starts of this plant from a friend who has planted it everywhere on her property. I really like the vine, but after reading all of the comments I've seen here, I'm definately not going to plant it in my yard!

I really feel for her neighbors.

Positive growth_is_good On May 22, 2005, growth_is_good from Liberty Hill, TX wrote:

I agree without maintenance this will become invasive. I am careful in placement and trimming of the "Aerial Potato" Dont plant under trees or bushes and harvest all the "potatoes" off the vine, before allowing them to the ground, and then replant them as you wish. It is a wonderful climber for lattice or fences. I was given a tuber "potato" from an experienced horticulturist in Lousiana, and now grow it in Central Texas. The huge hardy leaves are shade-full and tolerate heat well. Flowering is rare. As mentioned above, it will do well in baskets or large pots. ( In research found that in chinese-herbal medicine, the powder of the tuber is used for medicinal purposes. I myself wont try that!)

Negative jnana On May 18, 2005, jnana from South Florida, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

There are many non-invasive vines to choose from. This vine is almost impossible to eradicate once it takes hold. The parks in our area have volunteer drives several times a year to get rid of this pest. Even a miniscule piece of the tuber will sprout a new vine.

The Florida Dept. of Agriculture lists this vine as a noxious weed and it is listed as Category I of highly invasive plants by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council.

PLEASE DO NOT PLANT THIS VINE IN FLORIDA.

Positive Buttoneer On May 6, 2005, Buttoneer from Carlisle, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

We grow it as a houseplant in Pennsylvania. Ours stays under control as a hanging pot plant in the greenhouse and outside in the summer, going completely dormant in winter. I have never seen flowers on this vine, only the potatoes. I tried to help you Floridians out by bringing a "bagful" of them back to PA and I will be distributing them to our local Hobby Greenhouse Club. Sorry I couldn't bring a tractor trailer down to Fla to help you out but I only know how to drive a 4-speed.

Negative DawnRain On Mar 7, 2005, DawnRain from Bartow, FL wrote:

This is a very beautiful vine with beautiful emerald greed color and large heart shaped leaves. It has little tassels of white blooms with a very nice fragrance. With the novel addition of the potatos, it is a vine that would attract any gardener who has not experienced it.

All may seem well in the beginning, but the tiniest pea size potato is fully mature enough to generate a new plant. One that size somehow managed to get into my house. I left it alone to see how far it would go. With no soil to grow in and nothing but air to feed it, it made a 6ft vine before it died.

I hope that suggests how dangerous this invasive is. Especially if you live in Florida, you truly do not want it no matter how beautiful. Unfortunately, my beautiful pest arrived in a load of mulch 5 years ago. I battle it every summer and still have not been able to eradicate it. I am fearful that the floods of last summer may have helped to spread it. Thankfully it dies down over winter.

Positive cetude On Mar 6, 2005, cetude from Winter Haven, FL wrote:

I think these are very pretty vines-I found one of these air potatos and put it in the ground and it grew into a very nice vine on my fence. Requires no care whatsoever. Invasive? I did not find it to be. The vine did not grow spectacularly large. In fact when I got tired of it-it was not hard to get rid of...but I planted it again. I found it to be very easy to manage.

And yes I live in florida. I like this plant.

Positive ripperpullen On Jul 14, 2004, ripperpullen from Arlington, VA wrote:

Much like the North Carolina comment, I grow it on a Trellis in northern Virginia, close to Washington, and experience on positive reactions. Because it does not have time to produce mature tubers this far north, I purchase them from Texas each year.

Negative gardner_D On Jul 14, 2004, gardner_D from Tallahassee, FL wrote:

I wouldn't recommend growing Dioscorea bulbifera aka Air Potato Vine (and D. alata, aka Winged Yam) anywhere except maybe an enclosed courtyard or indoors. It is extremely invasive in southern states, and, once one vine has been allowed to mature, the air potato vine (and winged yam) is almost impossible to remove, or even control. Refer to Univ of Florida website for full details, including how to attempt to control it.

Neutral crimsontsavo On Jul 8, 2004, crimsontsavo from Crossville, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Maybe this vine would be nice if grown as a houseplant instead of in the yard.

Negative foodiesleuth On Jun 16, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

This horrible plant was introduced to our area by a mainland transplant. She brought them over from where she lived previously and started giving them to people up stream from us ... she offered some to us and we refused it, telling her why and how invasive this plant was.

She ignored us and now our area is beginning to get covered with the vines after rains and little flash floods brought the potatoes down stream.

Our local tourist attraction - Akaka Falls State Park - is already getting covered with this pest and the natural tropical plants and flowers are being strangled.

When I lived in Florida, I battled this plant for years as my neighbor had planted one at the fence between our yards....Almost daily I had to go out and cut as much as possible and rip up from the ground. I would even reach across through the wire fence and pull as much as I could from their yard!!!!

I'm sorry to be so adamant and do not want anyone to feel insulted.....but anyone who plants this vine on purpose should be fined.


Update on July 15, 2004

One small addition and comment. With all the nice plants and vines on the "friendly lists" I can't understand why anyone persists in planting a noxious plant as this. It is beyond my comprehension. It might not grow to invasive proportions in your area, but someone who sees your vine and admires it might take a tuber and plant one in an area where it will take off.....

We are talking about a plant that can cause the same damage as kudzu vines already have. If you want a pretty vine, get a moonflower!
Negative broozersnooze On Jun 15, 2004, broozersnooze from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Just looking at the pictures of this plant make me nauseous. This cursed thing grows so fast you don't even need a time-lapse camera to film it growing. I noticed a tendril coming up out of the ground next to my porch lattice. 45 minutes later it had already begun climbing & weaving into the lattice work.

I think it comes up from the roots as well as the "potatoes" because I cleared out all I could, put down weed block (black landscape fabric) & LOTS of mulch. This stuff is the ONLY thing that came back & IT GREW THROUGH THE WEED BLOCK! Everything I plant has to be in containers until I get rid of this cursed plant!

Negative pins2006 On Feb 12, 2004, pins2006 from Decatur, GA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I made the mistake of thinking the heart shaped leaves were cute and I let it grow after one volunteered in my yard. It almost killed my 5' azalea before I realized it had to go. Unfortunately the potatoes had already formed and went everywhere. I'm still battling it four years later. I'm in Atlanta.

Negative suncatcheracres On Nov 20, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

This plant is extremely invasive in Florida to the point that there have been group "clean-ups" of this plant from river bottom areas here in Northcentral Florida, zone 8b, where people spend part of a weekend trying to remove this plant from natural areas it has invaded. I suspect in cooler climates it is much less invasive.

Neutral Michaelp On Nov 20, 2003, Michaelp from Glendale, UT (Zone 5a) wrote:

The plant with the smooth, baseball-sized tubers is the least useable (edible) of the Dioscorea species that grow wild in the southeast U.S. The tubers are very bitter and must be cut up and boiled in more than one water change; also, the main tuber does not get as big as the other wild varieties.

I have found that it is better to plant the one with the rough, looking exterior and irregular shape--these are good to eat baked or boiled, and I prefer them to potatoes. Also the vine is just as beautiful as the others (the difference is that the leaves of the edible one are a little longer and not so wide, and the size of the air potato tuber is a little less usually. Please note there are at least 3 different species described as "Air Potato",

Negative mrsmitty On Nov 19, 2003, mrsmitty from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

AAAAAHHGRG!! Once you have them you can't get rid of them! I spray round up and it kills the vine but even a small brown potato as miniscule as a pea will start them back up again. My recommendation: catch them early and throw the potatoes into a container and dispose of them with the garbage. Don't let any of the potatoes touch soil.

Negative MotherNature4 On Oct 28, 2003, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Be aware this invasive exotic plant is listed as a Category I pest by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. It is almost impossible to get rid of once it has invaded an area.

Positive bfroberts On Aug 27, 2003, bfroberts from Mount Olive, NC wrote:

I am having a different experience with this vine. I'm in eastern North Carolina (U.S.), and I have this vine planted in a border on the back wall of the house. It is shaded by the house all day, and maybe that explains why mine never reaches gargantuan proportions. It grows on a six foot trellis, completely covering the trellis by summer's end, but it has never gotten out of hand.

The potatos will start to drop before much longer and I'll just store them until next year and give them away (those that I don't plant somewhere else). I love it. It has glossy, heart-shaped leaves and is very attractive against the plain ole vinyl siding of the back of the house. People always remark on how pretty this vine is. It will die back to the ground this winter, and around here some people do dig up the Mother Tater. So far I haven't had to. Just a layer of straw or mulch and it will shoot back up next spring.

Negative FL_Gator On Nov 28, 2002, FL_Gator from Dunnellon, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I do not grow this plant, but I have seen it in the local area. It is extremely invasive, and damages the natural ecosystem. Rainbow Springs State Park has been trying to eradicate this pest from the facility [once a commercial tourist trap] and progress is being made.

Negative Floridian On Nov 11, 2002, Floridian from Lutz, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Dioscorea bulbifera is another non-native, invasive vine in Florida (U.S.) While some members of this family have edible tubers this one is said to be bitter and possibly poisonous.

A member of the yam family (Dioscoreaceae), the "Air Potato" produces large numbers of aerial tubers. These tubers are attached at the stem and look like potatoes. The plant drops tubers (at the faintest touch) and dies back each winter. In spring the tubers start to grow (as does EVERY potato that touches the ground) and the vines often reach 70 feet and more in a single season.

Propagation of this plant is strongly discouraged as it smothers out native vegetation.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

,
Daphne, Alabama (2 reports)
Grady, Alabama
Jones, Alabama
Lexington, Alabama
Loxley, Alabama
Montgomery, Alabama
Fullerton, California
Hayward, California
Bartow, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Bradley, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Dunnellon, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fountain, Florida
Fruitland Park, Florida
Groveland, Florida
Holiday, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (3 reports)
Lehigh Acres, Florida
Longwood, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Miami, Florida (2 reports)
Niceville, Florida
Ocala, Florida
Orange Springs, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida (2 reports)
Sarasota, Florida
Spring Hill, Florida
Tampa, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida (3 reports)
Atlanta, Georgia
Decatur, Georgia
Lawrenceville, Georgia
Honomu, Hawaii
Bloomington, Indiana
Barbourville, Kentucky
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Lacombe, Louisiana
Slidell, Louisiana
Zachary, Louisiana
Clinton, Mississippi
Mccomb, Mississippi
Natchez, Mississippi
Henderson, North Carolina
Oxford, North Carolina
Vass, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Conway, South Carolina
Florence, South Carolina
Knoxville, Tennessee
Alvin, Texas
Aransas Pass, Texas
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Baytown, Texas
De Leon, Texas
Deer Park, Texas
Dickinson, Texas
Houston, Texas (4 reports)
Humble, Texas
Jacksonville, Texas
Liberty Hill, Texas
New Braunfels, Texas
New Caney, Texas
Pearland, Texas
Santa Fe, Texas
Snook, Texas
Weatherford, Texas
Arlington, Virginia



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