Unusual Vegetable Plants


Cinnamon Vine - Dioscorea Batatas.


A 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.

The 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.

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