Unusual Vegetable Plants
- Dioscorea Batatas.
native of the mountains of northern China, the so called “Cinnamon
Vine,” produces a soft top growth that hides a large, underground
tuber. The leafy vine is covered with Cinnamon scented flowers, hence
it’s name, and it also produces small bulbils at every leaf joint
that will grow into a new plant if they are allowed to fall to the
ground, or are deliberately planted. The bulbils although initially
slow to sprout, are very prolific and if the dead growth is not
cleared away carefully each autumn with all the bulbils removed, the
result will be countless young plants the next season. It is because
of this ease of propagation that in many parts of the world the vine
is considered to be an invasive, nuisance weed. The top growth will
die down every winter, but the plant will shoot again in the spring
from its large, slow developing, edible, root. A mature root will take
3 or 4 years to reach a harvestable size and must be cooked like a
potato, before its nutty flavour can be appreciated. Care must be
taken when handling the raw, white-fleshed tuber though, as it can be
an irritant to the skin of some people.
main tuber itself will readily grow to 3 feet in length before it is
harvested and can take quite a bit of digging to get it out as it
grows straight down!
A salient safety point about introducing this “Interesting,” vegetable/weed to your garden, or allotment, is that it is not particularly hardy and may need the protection of a polythene tunnel to enable it to grow successfully here in the U.K. Because we occasionally get some very hard winters, the plant may well be killed outright in some years preventing the danger of it getting established permanently and spreading too much.