Air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) is a member of the yam family, Dioscoreaceae, and is native to Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Air potatoes were introduced to tropical and subtropical regions of the world, including Florida, to be used as a food crop. This species reproduces sexually by seeds and vegetatively by underground and aerial tubers, enabling it to spread rapidly. It is a highly invasive plant which creates management problems in many parts of the United States.
Air potato is an herbaceous, vigorous, twining vine that climbs up other plants for support. As the name suggests, it produces a perennial, inedible yam, called a "bulbil". Bulbils are round to irregular in shape and can vary in size from pea-sized to grapefruit-sized. The stems are round or slightly angled and can grow 70 feet in length, making this vine difficult to eradicate. In North Carolina, air potato has been observed in the Mountains.
Fact Sheet: Air Potato