Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Very Invasive Plant

The air potato is one nasty weed, a vine related to the Yam family.  It is a native to tropical Asia and was first introduced to the Americas from Africa and in 1905 to Florida.  In 1993 is was placed on the Florida Noxious Weed List.  It has also reached the beaches area in NE Florida and the Back Forty Garden and Park.

When my husband and I retired to our home in the beaches community, we discovered this vine with bright heart shaped leaves and grayish round bulbils in various sizes.  Some of these bubils were as big as my fist or as small as a pea.  We were curious about this fast climbing vine that seemed to cover anything in its way.  We soon found out how damaging it was if not controlled.

Prevention of the growth and spread of this extremely invasive plant is on ongoing battle.  I have pulled this vine from its roots and most importantly picked up every bulbil in sight.  It is strongly recommended that at least the bubils be bagged and put out with the kitchen waste, not with the yard debris, to keep from spreading.

A very important method of the air potato management is the "roundup."  Every spring, the local news media announces times and meeting places for this community event.  It is often in recreational parks and natural areas.  It is a constant chore on the Back Forty property.

Information was obtained from the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants prepared by the University of Florida, IFAS and my personal experience.

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