Gifted A Friendship Potato
Q: A friend was shopping for gardening supplies. He ran into a fellow from south Georgia who gave him this thing in exchange for a purple hyacinth bean plant my friend had. He called it a friendship potato and said to plant it along a fence. Do you know what it is?
A: Friends don’t give friends friendship potato. I checked with plant expert Winston Eason, who agreed with my initial guess that this is a bulbil from air potato, Dioscorea bulbifera, sometimes called tater vine. The bulbils grow from the main vine at intervals and resemble small Irish potatoes initially. They are not edible. The reason this is not a friendly gift is that the vine is terribly invasive in Florida and parts of south Georgia. A vine might drop dozens of bulbils, which are scattered by chipmunks and mice. Ask your friend not to plant this present. Perhaps you could give him a nice crossvine in exchange?