Anyone here growing edible Air Potatoes? (Dioscorea bulbifera)


I dug up a small Chinese Yam that grew senescent too early (I had accidentally lopped off the growing tip early in the season). I hadn’t planned on eating it but my mom wanted to taste it, so we cooked it up. It was great, like D. alata.

We also cooked up some Guinea Yams (with squash, cod and fried ham) and some air potatoes. As usual, the air potatoes turned the water brown. Not my favorite yam, flavor-wise, but they still make for a decent meal (unlike poor-quality alatas and rotundatas… When they’re good, they’re great, but when they’re bad, they’re terrible).


Oh definitely! I’ve grown obsessed with root-level crops lately and have been collecting as many as I could find. I’ve racked up quite a species count with the Dioscoreas, I’ve attempted potatoes several times (with disastrous results), I’m growing Wombat Berry, Alpinia caerulea, Turmeric, Yautía (Xanthosoma), Peanuts, Jarilla chocola, Mauka, Tuberous Vetch, and I’m sprouting Bunium bulbocastanum, Hog Peanut and Apios americana. I’m waiting on the mail for Ipomoea costata, Woodsorrel Turnip (Oxalis tetraphylla) and Anredera cordifolia (¡Invasive! ¡Handle with care!). My sister is gonna send me Oca, Ulluco and Mashua, though I don’t expect good results in this climate. There’s loads more crops for me to find, but this is the list so far. The big ones are great, but I also like the little treats like Pignuts and Bayabang Fern.

My Lerenes (Calathea allouia) failed to produce a crop of tubers because I cramped them too much in too small a pot (3 heavy-feeding plants in one tote), but I got nearly 50 rhizomes for growing after I divided them up.

Impressive that it could resist so much cold, especially when elevated on a pedestal like that. Not much insulation. That’s an ornamental cultivar? How is it for flavor?


thanks for the photos @Caesar. Sure made me hungry! The sweet potato i posted(on pedestal) is actually a deep-orange fleshed variety got from a hispanic supermarket, not really sure what cultivar, but is good eating.

used to grow ornamental alpinia’s and nicolaia’s. Really miss those. Striking figures in the garden, and blend nicely with heliconia’s.


That sweet potato sounds like the one we call “Batata Mameya” over here. There’s a distinct preference for the deep orange ones over the white or purple types over here.

Did you find that your Alpinias did best in the sun or in the shade? Mine’s been in full sun for a couple of years, and is strong and vigorous, but looks a bit leggy and narrow-leaved, and a bit pale-stemmed, like it’s getting too much sun.

I’ve an update on the air potato. I mentioned it’s flavor as being merely decent, not my favorite yam. I wasn’t enthusiastic about it as I tucked into my dinner plate. Well, I had a nagging suspicion from the start that was confirmed today… They taste much better fresh! My grandmother plucked a fresh one and cooked it up on the spot. It had a pale interior and barely leached anything into the water. On tasting it, it was like eating a potato, very good. The ones I had cooked the other day had sat on my table for over a month, aging, dehydrating and increasing in bitterness over time. So that’s the key… Don’t wait for them to drop, pluck and cook as needed, never letting them age too much off the vine.


this might be species-dependent. We grew our alpinia’s(ornamental purpurata’s) in full-sun, and in semi-shade, and those under full sun were more compact in growth, so relatively more blooms vs amount of foliage. Those grown under shade had longer-lasting blooms though, as the sun does have a bleaching effect. Never had experience with coerulea’s, btw. Our nicolaia’s were more sensitive to full sun


Hello Cesar that’s great to find you here! :smiley:

My dioscorea alata from last summer and the harvest in last November…

My dioscorea alatas on pots…

My dioscorea alata tubers. They are smaller than i thought and they are white, not purple… but very healthy. Here they are:

This is the boiled d. alata. It is very viscous and difficult to pell. I boiled it in salted water and i like it. It’s a neutral flavour and good to eat. ;D


Hi Luis, great to see you here too!

Your alata harvest looks decent. The wild ones in my back hillside always bear small the first year, but they grow huge after a couple of years in the ground.

I’ve an update regarding my own yams…

The purple alata (Dark Night St. vincent) hasn’t produced bulbils, and I suspect that it won’t this year. In the event that it does, I’m sending them your way; otherwise, I’ll try to send a root piece.

As for the African Air Potato (Sena), one vine already has a small bulbil growing, but said vine is full of curled up leaves, and I’m concerned it might have a virus. They’re all sharing the same pot, but if a healthier-looking vine bears bulbils, those are the ones I’m gonna distribute and propagate. Otherwise, I’ll leave it to your discretion if you don’t mind the curled leaves.

I’m in the process of acquiring a second African type from a Hawaiian vendor, and I’m trying to germinate a second Indian type said to be superior to the first. More for information to come as the results come in.


Hello my friend! That’s great to have news from you! What you think it’s the best i will accept.
Best regards! :smiley: