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Cinnamon Vine, Chinese Yam, Air Potato

Dioscorea oppositifolia L.

(formerly Dioscorea batatas L.)

Dioscoreaceae (Sweet Potato Family)

▲▼ vine at Michigan State University Beale Gardens

▲▼ vine with flower buds

▲▼tubers ("air potatoes") attached to vines in autumn

▲close-up of aerial tubers

Cinnamon Vine, Chinese Yam, Air Potato Vine: 

·         Herbaceous to semi-woody, slender perennial vine in the Yam Family (Dioscoreaceae), native to Asia that climbs by twining counter-clockwise (if viewed from above) and produce potato-like tubers at leaf junctions (hence the name “air potato vine”)

·         Leaves are opposite, heart shaped, glossy green (sometimes coppery when first emerging), with 5-9 indented, somewhat parallel, curving veins emerging from the point where the petiole attaches to the leaf blade

·         Flowers are small, greenish-yellow in slender spike clusters at axils of leaves at tips of stems in mid to late summer; flowers have a cinnamon odor

·         Can propagate readily by dispersal of aerial tubers which separate easily from the stem

·         Has invaded fertile, moist woodlands in most of eastern and southern U.S. and can blanket understory vegetation, killing out native plants

·         Native wild yam is similar in appearance, but has alternate leaves and lacks the "air potatoes," or aerial tubers, and is not invasive

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