Dioscorea bulbifera

Dioscorea bulbifera L.

Common Names: Bitter Yam, Potato Yam, Air Potato

Family: Dioscoreaceae

Habit: Dioscorea bulbifera grows as a vine up climbing on other vegetation up to 2 m in length. The leaves are arranged alternately, ovate to cordate, to 15 cm in length, with an entire margin and an acuminate to cuspidate apex and 9 distinct veins. Succulent bulblets to 12 cm in section are produced along the stem.  There are underground tubers.

The incomplete, imperfect, actinomorphic, flowers are arranged in spikes.  Staminate flower subtended by a bract and the perianth has 6 unfused tepals.  In staminate flowers there are 6 stamens fused to the perianth and no carpel. In carpellate flowers there are 6 staminodes but no stamens and an inferior ovary with 3 locules and 3 seeds.  The fruit is a samara.

Habitat: Dioscorea bulbifera grows in Human Altered environments (farms, waste areas, abandoned fields).

Distribution: Dioscorea bulbifera is NOT native to the Lucayan Archipelago but has been observed on New Providence.  It is native to Africa and Asia.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Dioscorea bulbifera is not known to be used medicinally in the Bahamas. It is considered an INVASIVE species in the United States and is problematic in the Caribbean region.