Invasive plants? Getting rid of air potatoes
by Jason Hyde on Aug 12, 2021
If you were to observe the vines and leaves of the air potato plant, you’d be right to feel you’re in the presence of a beautiful plant. And although even conservationists would agree, our native South Florida plants are suffering because of it.
There are many things we can do to help the environment almost instantaneously.
- Avoiding using single-use plastics (a topic we cover a lot here).
- Shutting off the faucet when you’re not using it.
- Unplugging electronics when you’re not using them.
There are also things we can do that help in the medium-long term, like composting and then there are long-term measures like planting trees, raising good future citizens of the world, etc.
When it comes to planting trees and plants, we encounter a double-edged sword.
Each place on earth has a set of native plants, and since we’re all practically globalized by now, we have extensive knowledge of which plants are where, where are they originally from, and how some are related and others not. So in essence, each wild setting (forests, woods, jungles, and so on) can have native plants, exotic plants, and invasive plants.
Gardeners, environmentalists, conservationists, plant enthusiasts, and others, would argue that exotic plants are as damaging as invasive ones, but some believe that as long as they work in symbiosis with the environment there is space for them.
This plant, although beautiful to look at, is, you guessed it, invasive.
Florida has become known for being home to a series of invasive species, both plant, and animal.
You can find giant pythons destroying the fauna in the everglades, iguanas crawling all over the place, and air potatoes wreaking havoc in state and city parks.
The air potato is a vine, so it tangles around other plants (like wild coffee) and smothers them, which makes them hard to take down. Plus, to really get rid of it, you have to snatch it from the root and throw it in the garbage, otherwise, it’ll find its way to the ecosystem again.
It’s heartbreaking because there’s not much that can be done. The parks and recreation agencies have tight budgets, which is why rangers are taking matters into their own hands, and gathering neighbors to help get rid of this and other invasive plants.
You can join efforts in cleaning up air potatoes the second Sunday of each month at Enchanted Forest Elaine Gordon Park, bring your bag and gloves and ask for Miss Lola. Act now!