Family: Dioscoreaceae
Genus: Dioscorea
Botanical name: Dioscorea bulbifera L
Sanskrit: Varahi
English: Bitter yam
Hindi: Zimikand
Malayalam: kattukaachil
Dioscorea bulbifera is a perennial vine with broad leaves and two types of storage organs. The plant forms bulbils in the leaf axils of the twining stems, and tubers beneath the ground. These tubers are like small, oblong potatoes. Some varieties are edible and cultivated as a food crop, especially in West Africa. The tubers of edible varieties often have a bitter taste, which can be removed by boiling. They can then be prepared in the same way as other yams, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. The air potato is one of the most widely-consumed yam species. It can grow up to 150 feet tall. Air potato can grow extremely quickly, roughly 8 inches per day, and eventually reach over 60 feet long. It typically climbs to the tops of trees and has a tendency to take over native plants. New plants develop from bulbils that form on the plant, and these bulbils serve as a means of dispersal. The aerial stems of air potato die back in winter, but resprouting occurs from bulbils and underground tubers. The primary means of spread and reproduction are via bulbils. The smallest bulbils make control of air potato difficult due to their ability to sprout at a very small stage. The vine produces small white flowers, however these are rarely seen when it grows in Florida. The fruits are capsules.
Air potato has been used as a folk remedy to treat conjunctivitis, diarrhea and dysentery, among other ailments and also used for skin allergy due to toxic of spider and whip spider.
Dioscorea bulbifera L
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