Climbing potatoes anyone?

CREZIERES, France(Zone 8a)

Last year a potato grew in some rough ground in my garden (most of the garden is pretty rough) :O(.
It proceeded to fruit and set seed which I, as an obsessive seed sower collected and cured. This year I have grown some of the seed, and, in spite of a minor disaster when a large family of snails came to visit in the greenhouse, I have nearly 20 plants that I should be able to plant out soon (suitably protected !).
I was amazed, however, to note that two of the plants were growing tendrils... the only function of which is surely to climb...
Has anyone experienced this before...?


Thumbnail by cinemike
Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Is that tile on your kitchen counter? Just had to ask...

CREZIERES, France(Zone 8a)

Nope, it's a plastic table for the terrace.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

A tendril is a modified stem or leaf petiole. Perhaps at sometime in the evolutionary past or future of your potato seeds they were or will be climbers. Strictly in my mind's eye (mind you :)) I envision a potato like yours finding fertile ground to reproduce best by tubers. Then in another setting, and under other conditions, climbing, blooming, and setting seed that is dispersed over larger distances. The potato does have a reputation for growing under adverse conditions. Many large squashes and pumpkins have this same quality yet the fruits are too large to be supported by the plant if it climbs.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

BTW, If I were you, and where you are, forget potatoes...I'd be eating those snails!

CREZIERES, France(Zone 8a)

After every wet night one sees the French out in the early morning pulling the snails off the vegetation. The problem is to clean them... you need a gravel 'pit'. I don't mind the taste of snails, but they are a lot of work to cook. Then, without the right equipment, they are messy to eat.

The thing I found strange was that there were only two 'climbers' out of maybe 30 seeds.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

I grew up close to the ocean and eating fresh seafood including shellfish. In addition, my mom prepared ethnic recipes for carp. We used to purge wild harvested shellfish with cornmeal in a bucket and carp with nothing in the bathtub for days before it became gefilte fish in aspic. If you Google carp and bathtubs there are apparently many ethnic groups that have carp swimming in their tubs.

I love snails. Have the forks but not the tongs. The tongs and plates with little niches are nice but not necessary. When we go to Spain we eat caracoles by the bucket load. In Spain they serve them randomly sized and like a bucket. They are cheap there too.

I can only offer speculative suggestions regarding your potatoes. Maybe because they are growing in those small containers some of the plants realized tubers would not be an option and sprung tendrils. Just guessing. Maybe a potato grower will wiegh in and tell you this is very common.

CREZIERES, France(Zone 8a)

They are in the little pots as they were grown from seed and pricked out just like any other small plant.

I certainly have enough snails on my patch for 'gourmet' meals for a long time.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Post photos of your potato patch, if you can, as the season progresses.

CREZIERES, France(Zone 8a)

In view of several potager disasters recently (entire onion:garlic:shallot crop destroyed by ellworms) I am thinking of putting the 'hybrid potatoes' in tubs, if I can find them at the right price.

CREZIERES, France(Zone 8a)

This is clearly a case of 'curiouser and curiouser'.

The tendrils of the larger plant went everywhere, eventually covering the plant and grabbing hold of everything in range (~ 1ft).

Now they are dying down, but strange fruit/flower-like structures are growing on them....

Thumbnail by cinemike
Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

cinemike, I have heard of growing potatoes in burlap sacks. It might be an option versus buying tubs. Recently I saw some old coffee bean sacks for $1, but that was the only time I had seen sacks actually for sale.

CREZIERES, France(Zone 8a)

Nice idea, but as the mini-tubers are really small, I was thinking in terms of getting plastic rubbish bins maybe 1ft diameter by nearly 3ft tall. That should accommodate a single plant and encourage it to produce plenty of tubers.

I'm still gob-smacked by what is happening sith the 'fruiting tendrils'.

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)


The seeds you collected were true seed or botanical seeds or seed tubers? Most varieties of potatoes do not produce fruit from the flowers. But those that do produce fruit can be planted, however they are rarely produce a potato like the adult plant it came from.

To me those tendrils look like a parasite such as field dodder and are not part of the potato plant.

CREZIERES, France(Zone 8a)

That's it!!!!! Brilliant!

My seed came from a plant that grew from a small potato that I had discarded on a very rough piece of ground. MY guess is that the plant 'thought' "Hey, not much chance for my tubers next year here, it's time to set seed!". Hence I harvested the two fruits and grew them. I sold a load of seed on ebay as well for quite reasonable prices - about $5 for 20 seeds! One buyer was in the US, another in Russia, but the most were in the UK.

(What is the difference between 'true seed' and 'botanical seed'?)

I know about the hybridisation of potatoes from seed. That is not a problem for me. I love growing things from seed and the idea of having my own race of potatoes is fun, even if they are not so 'fine' as ones I could grow from bought or saved seed tubers.

On the other hand - all of the great varieties of potato have come from.... seed! One monkey has to write out the works of Shakespeare!

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

True seed or botanical seed mean the same thing. They are seeds that are derived from a flower.

We often say "seed potato" for a piece of the tuber but the tuber is not true seed nor botanical seed rather a tuber.

CREZIERES, France(Zone 8a)

Oh - obviously I knew that. I've been gardening for forty years and I know that 'seed potatoes' are simply tubers that enable the potatoes to reproduce vegetatively.

When you said 'true seed or botanical seeds' I thought that the 'or' meant that there was a difference between the two, which would have taken me into an area of botany that I didn't know existed.

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