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  Off topic question, Dioscorea sp.!
From: "Julius Boos" ju-bo at email.msn.com> on 2001.12.28 at 17:39:05(7986)
Dear Friends,

This concerns the plant family Dioscoria, the true yams. This family has
been considered as possibly being one of the relatives of the Araceae.
My question is---does anyone know FOR SURE if the species that grows as a
pest/weed here in S. and Cen. Florida, commonly called 'air potatoes', is
edible?? I have heard/read two versions, one is that it IS edible, and was
used as food by the Indians and early settlers, another says it is inedible
and mildly poisonous even when cooked. If it is edible, can both the
underground tubers AND the large tubers (the 'air potatoes') that are
produced above ground on the vine also be cooked and eaten??

Thanks, and have a Happy New Year!


From: mburack at mindspring.com> on 2001.12.28 at 22:12:46(7987)

Are you sure they are still a pest/weed here. I have heard that they have been removed in mass from almost everywhere.... I have looked many times to find it, and been unsuccessful?

Maybe I have seen it and not known that it was it was?

Is there anything about it more distinguishing than the leaves? A lot of ?viny? things make that leaf that looks like Dioscorea but I have never seen the ?aerial tubers???

Any thoughts?

From: Dean Sliger deanslgr at juno.com> on 2001.12.29 at 00:48:17(7988)
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.


From: Aroideae at aol.com on 2001.12.29 at 18:25:42(7989)
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.


From: Ron Weeks rhweeks at attglobal.net> on 2001.12.29 at 18:30:20(7990)
Julius, What a cheap way to get your off topic question answered.
Dioscorea related to Araceae? Beware the "air amorphophallus potato".
The thought is too good to be true. I'm sure that if they were edible
the departed Monroe Birdsey would have been handing out bags full of
them along with his favorite recipe. The pest plant is alive and well in
South Florida. The turnpike recently introduced it with new landscaping
in my neighborhood. This University of Florida link says Dioscorea
bulbifera contains the steroid diosgenin a principal material used to
make birth control pills. http://aquat1.ifas.ufl.edu/diobul.html
As I was saying, yes they are edible. Delicious!

From: Durightmm at aol.com on 2001.12.29 at 18:33:12(7991)
How many pounds would you like? Our woods abound with this noxious plant. Our next door neighbor in his innocense drove them into the woods with his #5 iron, until we alerted him to the consequences. Joe

From: "Julius Boos" ju-bo at email.msn.com> on 2001.12.30 at 06:10:32(7994)
----- Original Message -----
To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L
Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2001 1:33
Subject: Re: Off topic question,
Dioscorea sp.!

But do you know if I can cook and
eat this thing, Joe!



From: Alektra at aol.com on 2001.12.30 at 23:12:32(7995)
In a message dated 12/29/1 6:30:38 PM, rhweeks@attglobal.net writes:
<< Dioscorea related to Araceae? Beware the "air amorphophallus potato". >>

You may fend them off with a #5 iron, or, preferably, two held in the shape

From: Durightmm at aol.com on 2001.12.30 at 23:13:16(7996)
Hi Julius, according to our mutual friend John B. the dioscorea in abundance here is considered a famine food. The instability of the starch renders it virtually useless. He hopes to elaborate on this with you when you come over, soon? We are also not certain of it's species name. Bulbifera is a popular horticultural name only. It's cousin D. zanzibarense makes a lovely addition to any garden , as you probably know, and makes a better food. Our D. bulbifera tubers can get to be near basketball size. As an aside we also have D. elaphantissimum who produces no aerial tubers. The female produces an intrersting flower and many seeds. They prefere high well drained soil, as around the base of a pine. Can you use some of them? Best regards Joe

From: "Harry Witmore" harrywitmore at witmore.net> on 2001.12.31 at 01:14:04(7997)
I have
been looking for sources of this genus. If anyone knows where one can get them
please let me know. I have a species that occurs here either naturally or
introduced but I'm not sure what species it is. It produces leaves about 2"
across and tubers about the size of a nickel. I in zone 7 North

From: Alektra at aol.com on 2001.12.31 at 04:16:43(7998)
Dear Julius,

You may want to contact the people at The Banana Tree, because they seem to
know something about Dioscorea varieties:


From: "Derek Burch" derek at horticulturist.com> on 2001.12.31 at 04:17:45(7999)
Joe, I think that Dioscorea bulbifera is a good
name published by Linnaeus - and is the name most often applied to our little
monster (no wings on the stem, aerial tubers and undeground tubers that are
often somewhat paired and with coarse fibrous roots all over them). "Coarse" was
a carefully chosen word in this instance, as you will know if you have dug one
of the hairy devil's up. What a believer in the doctrine of signatures would use
them for is clear, but just how boggles the imagination.
This plant, by the way, is one of the two or three
that the Exotic Pest Plant Council managed to get right by including it
on their list. Derek

From: "Julius Boos" ju-bo at email.msn.com> on 2001.12.31 at 17:19:45(8000)
----- Original Message -----
To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L
Sent: Sunday, December 30, 2001 11:17
Subject: Re: Off topic question,
Dioscorea sp.!

Dear Derek,

I fully intend to peel, boil in salted water,
mash with butter, and EAT some of those buggers soon! I will
report the results to this L, (IF I survive !) and will certainly let us
all know what they tasted like, and also if the 'signatures' bear any truth,
as at 56 I can use whatever 'help' there may be out there!



From: "Julius Boos" ju-bo at email.msn.com> on 2001.12.31 at 17:21:51(8001)
----- Original Message -----
To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L
Sent: Sunday, December 30, 2001 8:14
Subject: RE: Off topic question,
Dioscorea sp.!


me a note off-l---when you say you are looking for sources for this genus, do
you mean papres/literature OR actual plants??


From: "Julius Boos" ju-bo at email.msn.com> on 2001.12.31 at 17:22:03(8002)
A MUCH better control measure for this pest plant (and others here in
Florida like Muscovy Ducks, Amaranth lawn-weed, escapee Xanthosomas and
Colocasias, Armdillos, 'possums, (no coons thought!) etc., consists of
inviting folks like myself, other Trinidadians, Haitans, Jamaicans, etc. to
live in your neighborhoods, we GLADY take care of these 'pests' to America!!
:--)> We even dispense recipes to assist you 'less-informed' folk! :--)>
Stewed armadillo in a rum/wine gravey, anyone?? Or dry-curried muscovy
duck, mashed air-potatoes w/ cheese and butter on the side, amaranth spinach
done 'chori badghi' choka-style??? Ah, you guys do NOT know what you are

Happy New Year!


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