Vines and Other Climbing 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.