The Amazing Edible “Air Potato” and Its Enemy… The Government


See those strange-looking root things? Those are the aerial bulbils of an edible cultivar of Dioscorea bulbifera growing at an experimental research facility in Florida.

Dioscorea bulbifera is the dreaded invasive “air potato,” and cousin of the winged yam.

Basically, this is a plant that makes edible aerial roots that you can pluck right off the vine and take to the kitchen. The plants are prolific producers of bulbils, yielding buckets of them in a season. Unfortunately, some of the wild forms of this air potato contain toxins that make them inedible, so you have to get a cultivated version to grow them… and those are hard to find, thanks to them being illegal for nurseries to grow.

Unfortunately, if you’re not a nursery owner and you’re growing them despite the restrictions, you’re about to get pwned by the government.

Check this out:

The native range of air potato includes much of Asia and Africa, and recent molecular evidence suggests that air potato in Florida originated from China (Croxton et al. 2011). Air potato was introduced to Florida in 1905 when it was sent to the USDA by Henry Nehrling, who later noted its invasive potential (Morton 1976). It has since become extremely aggressive (Hammer 1998). By the 1980s, air potato vines were growing in thickets, waste areas, and hedges or fencerows in many parts of south and central Florida (Bell and Taylor 1982). By 1999, air potato was recognized as an invasive exotic that alters plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structure, and disrupting ecological functions (FLEPPC 2003). A leaf feeding beetle, Lilioceris cheni, was recently introduced into Florida from China for biological control of air potato.This article provides information on the distribution, appearance, life cycle, host range and importance of the beetle (keep reading)

So here we have a perfect prepper plant with the potential to be a no-work caloric stable… and they release a beetle to destroy it.

Is there some kind of anti-staple food conspiracy going on?

About David The Good

David The Good is a naturalist, author and hard-core gardener who has grown his own food since 1984. At age five, he sprouted a bean in a Dixie cup of soil and caught the gardening bug. Soon after, his dad built an 8’ by 8’ plot for him and David hasn’t stopped growing since. David is the author of four books, writes a regular column for The Ag Mag in North Central Florida, is a Mother Earth News blogger and has also written for outlets including Backwoods Home, Survival Blog and Self-Reliance Magazine. You can find his books on Amazon here. David is a Christian, an artist, a husband, a father of seven, a cigar-smoker and an unrepentant economics junkie who now lives somewhere near the equator on a productive cocoa farm. Visit his daily gardening and survival blog here: The Survival Gardener And for lots more gardening info, click here and subscribe to his often hilarious YouTube channel.

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4 Responses to “The Amazing Edible “Air Potato” and Its Enemy… The Government”

  1. Junn Flores Says:

    Hello David,
    I’m involve in sustainable farming here in the Philippines and I’m doing research on the air potatoes if its feasible to grow commercially for the indigenous people. I have a variety here that I like to email you if you can distinguish if its edible.
    Thanks you.



  2. Francis Says:

    I’ve go this plant growing wild at my backyard. how do we tell if the plant is edible or not.? How to identify the toxins?


  3. Deb Scrivens Says:

    No conspiracy. We grow and eat this in Hawaii. In Florida it smothers other plants including food plants. Different climate, different balance. Words can be misleading. Even ‘native’ plants can be ‘invasive’. Biological control such as beetles are a part of integrated Pest Management. And integrated Pest Management was developed to reduce the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides.


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