Air Potato – A Noxious Weed
The air potato vine can reach 60 feet in a single season. One may encounter the twining climbing vine along the forest edge, hammocks, disturbed areas and roadsides. The exotic air potato vine (Dioscorea bulbifera) is simple to identify and somewhat easier to control from mid-summer to first frost.
Although fairly common in our area, air potato is actually a native of China, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Introduced as a food source and garden ornamental, this plant has gone awry. In 1999, air potato vine was added to Florida’s Noxious Weed List and currently may be found in 60 of Florida’s 67 counties.
Here is a video to help identify the air potato vine characteristics and control options including the release of the leaf feeding air potato beetle (Lilioceris cheni). Manual removal of the non-edible aerial tubers (bulbil), excavation of underground tuber, mowing, and herbicide application based on site situation are other ways to combat the plant.
If you would like to become involved in helping to stop the spread of this noxious vine, you can become a Citizen Scientist. Here is the link with more information about the program.
Contact your local extension office for more information on the air potato or to receive help identifying other plants. Residents of Dixie, Gilchrist and Levy counties may bring a suspicious plant specimen with several leaves attached to its stem to the Levy County Extension office, 625 North Hathaway Avenue, Bronson.
Enjoy a Safe Summer & Happy Gardening
Barbara L. Edmonds
Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator
Barbara Edmonds has been the Master Gardener volunteer
coordinator at the UF/IFAS Extension Office for the last
9 years. Barbara is an ISA Certified Arborist. You can contact
Barbara with homeowner horticulture questions or to set up
master gardener yard visits.