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Re: Off topic question, Dioscorea sp.!

  • Subject: Re: Off topic question, Dioscorea sp.!
  • From: Aroideae@aol.com
  • Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2001 12:25:42 -0600 (CST)

dear dean and julius,

the florida "air yam" is dioscorea bulbifera Linnaeus and is an introduced tropical species.  according to my book, "florida wildflowers and roadside plants" by bell and taylor, it does not flower and reproduces vegetatively by means of the aerial tubers which are edible when cooked.  it's a terrible weed here and covers many of the trees along my back pasture, here in central florida.

lynn

Julius -

Not sure which species you mean.  If you're referring to the native
Dioscorea villosa, yes, it's edible, but probably not in portions
comparable to how one might eat "regular" potatoes.  Native Americans
both ate it and used the dried roots medicinally (gastrointestinal
ailments and labour pains).  According to the 'PDR for Herbal Medicines,'
you should avoid eating it if you're taking supplemental estrogen.  ;-)

If you mean Dioscorea batatas (D. opposita) -- a/k/a cinnamon yam,
Chinese yam, Shan Yao -- which I *think* is the one commonly grown as the
"air potato" houseplant, the tubers are totally edible, grown as a food
crop throughout the Philippines and elsewhere.  When grown in the ground
the little tubers can grow up to 3' long.  I have it growing out in the
yard, but haven't dug up any tubers to measure them (I grow it as an
ornamental for the benefit/dismay of the "That can't be hardy!" people).
Apparently it has cinnamon-scented flowers, hence the common name, but
I've yet to see flowers here in Michigan.

Dean






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