I’ve written multiple times on edible vs. non-edible air potatoes but what I haven’t covered much is the edible Dioscorea bulbifera.
Dioscorea bulbifera is the common wild variety of air potato that will mess you up if you eat it.
To make things complicated, however, there are some edible cultivars – though they’re very rare. As a crop, they have awesome potential. Imagine a staple root you don’t have to dig up!
I was given one – check it out:
Looks different from the wild ones, doesn’t it? The shape is quite sculptural. The edible Dioscorea bulbifera bulbils look like a Gaudi sculpture.
The wild, toxic Dioscorea bulbifera bulbils look like this:
Round and very not-edible.
Those contain high levels of diosgenin, and that will mess you up.
Here, check out my new video on the edible Dioscorea bulbifera:
Seriously – isn’t that the coolest thing ever?
A Potential Staple Crop Cast Aside
Unfortunately, the air potato beetles released by UF eat the edible Dioscorea bulbifera so the era of this potentially being the perfect easy-to-grow staple “root” crop are already over before they had a chance to begin.
They are about the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen:
Wish they were as easy to grow as they were before the beetles were released.
Dioscorea bulbifera is potential staple root crop that could be harvested without digging, and its potential has already been wrecked by the government’s deliberate release of an insect pest.
Look – when something grows SO GREAT as to be an invasive, why not figure out HOW TO USE IT?
Yes, the wild air potato vines are a pain-in-the-neck. They grow on their own with no care and have spread all over the state.
But, if instead of releasing a pest to kill the wild menace, UF decided to work on growing edible Dioscorea bulbifera cultivars, they could have given the state an incredible new staple crop!
No. Instead they decided to release a voracious pest that will render future cultivation of edible air potatoes difficult at best.
I really don’t understand the way these researchers think.
My goal has always been to grow the most amount of food for the least amount of work. When you have something that’s potentially a great edible crop or has excellent uses, why not just take the cards you’ve been dealt and press towards utilizing that “pest?”
Dioscorea bulbifera could have been the next Idaho potato.
Instead, it’s a “noxious weed.”