Dioscorea bulbifera

Plant of the month: November

Dioscorea bulbifera (air potato)

Also known as: Air potato

Native to: Tropical Africa, Southern Asia, India, Sri Lanka

Blooms: Small white flowers, not showy

Habitat: Margins of tropical rainforest

Where is it found at BBG: Tropical House


This is not a potato for eating!

This massive, perennial, tree climbing vine has large heart-shaped leaves. It grows from an underground tuber but is propagated mainly by small aerial bulbils produced on its stems in its leaf axils. The stems die back in the winter and shed the aerial tubers onto the ground. These lay there over the winter until the warmer spring weather kick starts them and the original underground tubers into growth. The stems can grow up to 20cm a day until it is 45 metres tall. Due to its invasive nature, it has become a weed in Florida.

Although related to yams, the tubers are very toxic and should not be consumed.