Air potato plant invading Collier County gardens

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

Collier County is telling people to look out for an invasive air potato plant that can be very aggressive.

“It’s a Category 1 invasive plant, and it climbs up trees, so you may notice it mixed in with other plantings,” Eric Foht said.

Foht is the natural resources director at the Naples Botanical Garden. He said the invasive plant is commonly seen around Southwest Florida, but it can suffocate trees and smother other plants and wildlife.

“Because it’s a climbing vine that will canopy out other things, it can be detrimental and alter the habitat to a point where it’s unrecognizable, sometimes, in some cases, and that’s bad for wildlife because then they don’t have the same food sources that they typically would have without this plant,” said Foht.

Potato-like bulbs from invasive air potato plant (CREDIT: WINK News)

The vine can be identified by its arrow-shaped leaves and potato-like bulbs that grow along the stem.

Foht said the weed grows up to five inches per day, and there is only one way to get rid of it.

“Pulling the plant out of the ground, pulling the roots up, collecting these potatoes are great because this is what propagates the new plant. Getting a five-gallon bucket, looking around your yard, picking them up and throwing them in the trash,” said Foht.

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