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Edible Air Potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) - Buy, Sell & Trade

 
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Caesar, I think you’re right. You posted earlier about eBay seller “Uncle Chan” selling D. alata as D. esculenta. Well, a while back, I purchased a purple D. esculenta from an eBay seller in Thailand and when it finally sprouted, it wound up being Ube, a purple D. alata. Anyway, about 5 months ago I ordered D. esculenta from Uncle Chan and it finally arrived today. It’s purple and it’s already sprouting. I’m not 100% yet but, here in about a week or two, after it grows a few inches, I’ll know if it’s an Ube also. Oh well, it was worth a shot. I was really looking forward to that being a D. esculenta. The only one I have just woke up from a 4 month sleep about 3 weeks ago and is, so far, my least vigorous Dioscorea.
 
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Thanks for the recommendation Lorinne. I still haven't gotten one, so I'll look into it.



D. esculentus is one of my thinner vines, but don't let that fool you, they're tougher than D. esculenta vines, not frail.

⁂ ⁂ ⁂

My Saipan Purple has been churning out bulbils, so I figured now is a good time to taste them. To avoid poisoning myself – or confirm its toxicity (it is a semi-toxic variety) – I boiled it three times, changing the water between boils. I had intended on each time to be 30 minutes, but I ended up doing one 30 and two 20 minute boils by mistake. I was tempted to keep the skin, but I figured if the flesh was toxic, the skin would be more so.

I mashed it and seasoned it, ate half first, then the remainder a half hour later (long enough to give me time to adjust, but close enough where toxicity should've been apparent). The smell and flavor reminded me of Yams and Chayote and slightly of Camansi Nut (but much milder and more pleasant than the nut). My father likened the smell to that of ordinary yams.

It's been a day, and no symptoms developed. I figure it's a decent edible variety, provided it's properly cooked. I'm not sure I'd recommend bigger portion sizes (I just ate one bigger-than-apple-sized bulbil), but I have no qualms about eating it again. I wouldn't taste Tefoe Purple yet, though, since that one is almost entirely untested (I'd like to send a sample to a lab, if I knew of one).

Note: This took place after a heaping plate of rice, so I'm not sure if an empty stomach would've given different results.



Further updates:

CV-2, sourced by the same person who gave me CV-1, is said to be superior, but I only have two bulbils at hand, so I'm not sure about tasting it yet. The vine has several more bulbils, but they're still small.

Nonthaburi Yellow died back to the ground. Worried about the possibility of it rotting, I dug up the tuber, washed it, trimmed it, dried it, and bagged it until planting time next season.

I need to think and work long and hard to find a good planting spot for next season. Bulbifera really doesn't seem to like pots... It struggles to produce, and often dies back without a crop. In the ground though, it's the strongest vine I have.

Now that I have some bulbils, I'm going through my list one-by-one, checking in with the interested parties, so if you get a moosage from me, it's probably that.
image.jpeg
Peeling Saipan Purple.
Peeling Saipan Purple.
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Almost finished peeing.
Almost finished peeing.
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The lenticels seem to penetrate the flesh.
The lenticels seem to penetrate the flesh.
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Slices through...
Slices through...
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... purple to the core!
... purple to the core!
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About to boil...
About to boil...
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... they stain the water purple.
... they stain the water purple.
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After the first boil.
After the first boil.
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Fully cooked.
Fully cooked.
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Mashed and buttered!
Mashed and buttered!
image.jpeg
Current set of bulbils. Top-Left: Saipan Purple. Bottom-Left: Tefoe Purple. Bottom-Middle: CV-2. Bottom-Right: Hawaii. Top-Right: Sena.
Current set of bulbils. Top-Left: Saipan Purple. Bottom-Left: Tefoe Purple. Bottom-Middle: CV-2. Bottom-Right: Hawaii. Top-Right: Sena.
image.jpeg
Mae-sai Yellow...
Mae-sai Yellow...
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... almost "pimply" with its bumps. "Knotted" was the word used by the vendor.
... almost "pimply" with its bumps. "Knotted" was the word used by the vendor.
image.jpeg
Flowers... Not sure of the variety nor the gender.
Flowers... Not sure of the variety nor the gender.
image.jpeg
CV-2 Flowers.
CV-2 Flowers.
 
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Amazing collection.  Thanks for sharing.  I'm a huge fan of the Dioscorea genus.  I sent you a moosage.  
 
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Hello, I would like to know if anyone has purple bulbifera dioscorea, if so where can I find it.
 
Thomas Black
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WOW! Those pics are awesome. This is by far my favorite post on this forum. Keep the pics and all the 411 coming!
 
Stefania Giancane
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Does anyone have purple bulbifera dioscorea?  If so where can I find it?
 
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Hey there,

Just wondering if anyone had any good tubers available for sale?
Si
 
Caesar Smith
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I’m back, and have replied to all (hopefully... if I’ve missed anyone, message me).

The big producers this year were CV-1 and Saipan Purple. The other varieties fared poorly in pots (first-come-first-served for those others; I’ve kept track of the dates). This year I’ll try to get them straight into the ground. I’ll start shipping this next week.

AFF2F250-1897-4AF4-A203-BA35E6CFBA20.jpeg
My stock of Saipan Purple
My stock of Saipan Purple
68D70E5E-B7A6-425F-8D02-AE39DA863D5C.jpeg
My stock of CV-1
My stock of CV-1
 
Stefania Giancane
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hello, I would like to know if you have other varieties of dioscorea bulbifera, if so you can take pictures of the bulbs.
 
Caesar Smith
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Stefanus Bulbiferus wrote:hello, I would like to know if you have other varieties of dioscorea bulbifera, if so you can take pictures of the bulbs.



This is a sample of the varieties that bore bulbils this season. I won’t be able to offer all of them, as I will retain some for propagation, and the few that would remain would go to the first interested parties. If any of those varieties remain afterwards, I’ll alert the later interested parties so that they can purchase them.

Edit: I also have loads of Dark Night St. Vincent bulbils (D. alata).
68AE5FA8-A92F-4478-8B19-0611B7069B4F.jpeg
Far Left Top to Bottom (Saipan Purple, Tefoe Purple); Middle Left Top to Bottom (CV-1, CV-2, Mae-Sai Yellow); Top Right (Hawaii), Bottom Right-Left (Pínczow – probably the same as Hawaii), Far Bottom Right (Sena)
Far Left Top to Bottom (Saipan Purple, Tefoe Purple); Middle Left Top to Bottom (CV-1, CV-2, Mae-Sai Yellow); Top Right (Hawaii), Bottom Right-Left (Pínczow – probably the same as Hawaii), Far Bottom Right (Sena)
 
Stefania Giancane
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Hello, I would like to know how many bulbs you have of tefoe purple and Hawaii, because I am interested in buying.
 
Caesar Smith
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Stefania Giancane wrote:Hello, I would like to know how many bulbs you have of tefoe purple and Hawaii, because I am interested in buying.



PM sent.
 
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Hello Ceasar,
I also live here in PR and I am interested in purchasing some air potatoes from you. Can you send me a PM?
I am looking to establish a forest garden as the rainy season kicks in, perhaps you have some other items as well.
Cheers.
 
Caesar Smith
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Jack Dakin wrote:Hello Ceasar,
I also live here in PR and I am interested in purchasing some air potatoes from you. Can you send me a PM?
I am looking to establish a forest garden as the rainy season kicks in, perhaps you have some other items as well.
Cheers.



Pm sent.
 
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What a fantastic thread!!

I'm growing some bulbils from Oikos for the first time this year and the vines look lovely already. Sadly, they were sold out of the variety I really wanted, every time I looked for 2 years running, so I gave up and bought the ones they did have available, even though they don't produce large aerial tubers. Still, at least I've got some growing. I can add other varieties in future years as I get my hands on them.

It's very exciting to see this movement to improve, share and cultivate this perennial starch. Keep up the great work and I hope I'll be able to join you in sharing out bulbils in a few years!
 
steward
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Sadb O'Conner wrote:Sadly, they were sold out of the variety I really wanted, every time I looked for 2 years running, so I gave up and bought the ones they did have available, even though they don't produce large aerial tubers.


Sadb, what is the name of the variety you wanted?  Maybe one of us can help you.
 
Sadb O'Conner
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I was hoping to get their large aerial tuber variety, which they call Ranger:

"Ranger: Heavy producer of  larger than average aerial vine tubers up to 1 inch in size in clusters.  These are harvested in September. The roots are typical of the species up to 6 inches long."
https://oikostreecrops.com/products/perennial-vegetable-plants/edible-roots-bulbs-tubers/chinese-mountain-yam/

But really I would love to grow any large aerial edible variety, especially since our garden is part of our agritourism/educational showcase for permaculture mentoring.

I'd be delighted to plant any spare bulbils folks have on hand, though of course this is probably the wrong time of year for any to be unclaimed. But there's no rush; I'll definitely check back on this thread later in the year for harvest season and see what folks have available to sell, swap or share.

Thank you!
 
Greg Martin
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I picked up and planted some large aerial tuber varieties last year including Ranger and can hopefully help you out in the fall if you can remind me with a PM in September.  They didn't do anything aerial tuber wise that first year, but perhaps this year!  Fingers crossed.
 
Sadb O'Conner
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Thank you! Will do.
 
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these seem pretty neat! Anyone have or know a Canadian source of the non-toxic varities? Tubers crossing the border is iffy at best.
 
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Caesar! I have been trying to do my own research on differentiating and sourcing Dioscoreas (particularly edible bulbiferas) ever since I read Toensmeiers book. Your info here is quite a goldmine. You said you have shipped to Arizona before. Have you gotten any feedback on how well they have done? I recently acquired a few ‘Hawaii’ bulbils that I was nervous I lost until they finally came up about a week ago. Arizona gets so hot in the summers that I am planning on providing them some afternoon shade. I know that I would be on a waiting list, but would love to test your CV types. Let me know when you have some available and when shipping gets back to nearly normal. I’ll see if I can come up with something to share.
 
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Well I'm up here in Maine, zone 5. If y'all are willing to send me some plants or bulbs I'd love to test cold hardiness!

That purple one is beautiful!
 
pollinator
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Now that pandemic restrictions are easing up, is there a way to trade for air potatoes?  And does the trade have to be plant related (I'd offer a book I wrote!)

Also, I'm reading up on air potatoes (sorry, should have done this sooner) and wonder if Dioscorea bulbifera is preferred in some culinary or cultivation way vs  Dioscorea alata (purple yam)/  I've got a yam sitting in water hoping for slips but it's a grocery store yam.  I'm just growing it for the foliage.
 
Thomas Black
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Caesar,

Hi, I hope all is well. I haven’t seen a post from you in a while. If you have any Dioscorea bulbs I’d like to trade with you again. Either way, get back up with me and let me know. Thanks, Thomas.
 
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Wondering what type of air yam this is. I found this growing in Fairhope Alabama.
A886C2EF-38ED-47A5-A2D9-FC6C472D2F8C.jpeg
air-bulbil-diascorea-unknown
 
steward
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Welcome to Permies Kurtis!
Wow! that looks huge! I've no idea. If no one here knows, I would suggest planting it - I've not seen any as big as that, so it could be an easier source of food if it's an edible one.
 
Thomas Black
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Hey Kurtis, I live just around the corner in Pensacola. Anyway, that would be Dioscorea bulbifera, the inedible wild type. Here in our area we have 2 escaped yams, D. alata and D. bulbifera. Alata bulbils are very mishappened looking but both they and the tubers are edible. Although there are edible D. bulbifera, the wild type the you find here are toxic. They are a very ornamental vine though.
 
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If anyone still has air potatoes to spare, I would love to buy some. I’m interested in all edible ones

 
Thomas Black
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Here’s some of mine.
2AEAE912-6D7C-4595-A33A-2EF452387541.jpeg
Yams
Yams
 
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Nice collection!
 
Thomas Black
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Thanks.
 
Caesar Smith
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It seems I’ve been gone for far too long! I hope all is well with you all. Unfortunately, I’ve continued losing varieties during my forum absence. As it stands, I still have specimens from almost all of the yam species, and several bulbiferas [CV-1, Saipan Purple, Hawaii, Mae-sai Yellow, and some Asian types whose identity I’ve lost (I’ll probably recognize them once bulbils start forming)]. I’m not currently equipped to recover the ones I’ve lost, but at least I know where to recover most of them.

Last year was a dismally unproductive year, that’s what I get for growing in the same soil year after year without amendment. I’ve given them a shot of 20-20-20 with a hefty dose of granular fertilizer. I’ll top them off with compost soon, and periodically fertilize them further, to get a better yield this year. Only two people received bulbils this past year, from how few I had (I misremembered it as one, previously).



Jason Tibbetts wrote:Caesar! I have been trying to do my own research on differentiating and sourcing Dioscoreas (particularly edible bulbiferas) ever since I read Toensmeiers book. Your info here is quite a goldmine. You said you have shipped to Arizona before. Have you gotten any feedback on how well they have done? I recently acquired a few ‘Hawaii’ bulbils that I was nervous I lost until they finally came up about a week ago. Arizona gets so hot in the summers that I am planning on providing them some afternoon shade. I know that I would be on a waiting list, but would love to test your CV types. Let me know when you have some available and when shipping gets back to nearly normal. I’ll see if I can come up with something to share.



Unfortunately, I’ve received very little feedback from most of the people I’ve sent bulbils to. Two in particular stand out, with one in Florida having issues with beetle damage, and another in Italy having somewhat underwhelming results (that was in the first year, I’m not sure if he had subsequent improvement).

PM me between December and February. Hopefully the fertilizer will have had a positive impact on the yield.



Lif Strand wrote:Now that pandemic restrictions are easing up, is there a way to trade for air potatoes?  And does the trade have to be plant related (I'd offer a book I wrote!)

Also, I'm reading up on air potatoes (sorry, should have done this sooner) and wonder if Dioscorea bulbifera is preferred in some culinary or cultivation way vs  Dioscorea alata (purple yam)/  I've got a yam sitting in water hoping for slips but it's a grocery store yam.  I'm just growing it for the foliage.



Plants preferred (depending on which ones), but I am an avid reader! I will be trading again during harvest season this year, December to February. PM me around then.

Regrettably, bulbil-bearers are quite under-used outside of permaculture contexts despite their excellent potential as a non-destructively harvested perennial starch crop (this is its main advantage, and one vine will give several bulbils per season). I will say this, bulbifera is generally not the best tasting of all the yams, but it’s nevertheless quite decent in flavor when consumed at its prime (consider this an actual endorsement, rather than condemnation by faint praise).



Thomas Black wrote:Caesar,

Hi, I hope all is well. I haven’t seen a post from you in a while. If you have any Dioscorea bulbs I’d like to trade with you again. Either way, get back up with me and let me know. Thanks, Thomas.



PM me around harvest time! All is well enough, I just tend to drop off from all the forums for extended periods when I get a spike in stress... it’s not a pretty picture, but I’m doing ok!



Thomas Black wrote:Hey Kurtis, I live just around the corner in Pensacola. Anyway, that would be Dioscorea bulbifera, the inedible wild type. Here in our area we have 2 escaped yams, D. alata and D. bulbifera. Alata bulbils are very mishappened looking but both they and the tubers are edible. Although there are edible D. bulbifera, the wild type the you find here are toxic. They are a very ornamental vine though.



That is a bulbifera, but here’s the neat part... apparently there’s many different strains of feral bulbiferas in and around Florida and several of them are edible. What makes them dangerous is that there’s no way to tell the difference between them and the toxic (and potentially lethal) ones at a glance. You’d have to have them tested for Diosgenin and Diosbulbin in a lab, if such a service were available. If you could do that, you could sort out the toxic ones and grow the edible ones. Also weird is that toxic strains sometimes beget edible strains from their botanical seeds. Clearly this is an effort best left to the experts, don’t taste this at home!
 
Stefania Giancane
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Hi Cesar, look how wonderful the dioscorea plants are growing in my House, I hope you like them!!!
20221006_113544.jpg
dioscorea plant
20221005_213054.jpg
air potato plant growing indoors
20221006_120221.jpg
air potato
20221005_212717.jpg
sprouting air potato
 
Thomas Black
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Glad to see you posting again, Caesar! I hope you did well thru Hurricane Fiona. In my part of Florida, we were spared from the affects of Hurricane Ian. I’ll definitely have to get up with you around your harvest time!
 
Anthony Dougherty
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Caesar Smith wrote:It seems I’ve been gone for far too long! I hope all is well with you all. Unfortunately, I’ve continued losing varieties during my forum absence. As it stands, I still have specimens from almost all of the yam species, and several bulbiferas [CV-1, Saipan Purple, Hawaii, Mae-sai Yellow, and some Asian types whose identity I’ve lost (I’ll probably recognize them once bulbils start forming)]. I’m not currently equipped to recover the ones I’ve lost, but at least I know where to recover most of them.




Welcome back! I am very interested in testing out the cold hardiness of these guys! I live in Maine, about 5a, i would love to purchase some of these from you! I do Jadam/KNF gardening and would love to use these for the feeding of my IMOs instead of regular potatoes so i dont have to dig up my soil!
 
Tanja Eskildsen
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I know you shouldn't trust everything you see on youtube but I came across this video with a guy growing dioscorea pentaphylla for it's bulbils as the main crop. I can't find other sources claiming it's edibility. Do any of you have experiences with eating the bulbils?
This is the video:  
 
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I got some very large edible air potatoes from Uganda Tropical fruit farm, some almost a kg each, they are forming multiple sprouts, so I'm wondering if it's possible to cut them into smaller pieces, each piece with its own sprout, to increase my number of plants? Or might it kill the potato?
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Location: Houston Texas (zone 11b)
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foraging trees seed
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Caesar Smith wrote:It seems I’ve been gone for far too long! I hope all is well with you all. Unfortunately, I’ve continued losing varieties during my forum absence. As it stands, I still have specimens from almost all of the yam species, and several bulbiferas [CV-1, Saipan Purple, Hawaii, Mae-sai Yellow, and some Asian types whose identity I’ve lost (I’ll probably recognize them once bulbils start forming)]. I’m not currently equipped to recover the ones I’ve lost, but at least I know where to recover most of them.



Greetings Caesar! I would like to buy and /or  trade with you for a few CV-1. Wish you still had CV-2.. but alas!

I live in Houston Texas (Zone 11b) and I have been growing the "Hawaiian" variety from Ebay for 2 years now. My first year I planted three bulbils and harvested three or four handfuls of medium sized bulbils (a little smaller than my fist). I replanted 11 of those bulbils last year. From those plants I harvested about 50 pounds of bulbils and roots! This gives me hope that CV-1 could thrive in Houston. I harvested them in November. They have been stored indoors. This picture was taken today (2/16/23).

I know you already have "Hawaii", but perhaps you may be interested in some of the other tropical crops I have found to be very delicious and precocious producers in my subtropical environment. I have bulbs/rhizomes of 3 true varieties of Canna Edulis ("queensland arrowroot", giant "red type", and what I call "small red type") and seeds of the larger fruited variety of the tropical seminole pumpkin (once grown in Florida by the Seminole native americans).

The bulbs/rhizomes of the Canna edulis are delicious. Boiled, they taste like a sweetened potato (not a sweet potato, but literally like a potato that has been sweetened with sugar).

The Seminole pumpkin is also a winner at our table. When microwaved or baked in its green stage it tastes like a potato with a hint of zucchini or yellow squash. When the mature tan pumpkins are stored for a month or more (they can store for a year or more without rotting!) they get sweet and tasty similar to a sweet potato, but sweeter, and with a hint of zucchini flavor.
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50 pound Hawaiian Bulbifera harvest
50 pound Hawaiian Bulbifera harvest
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Seminole pumpkin
Seminole pumpkin
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"Queensland Arrowroot"
"Queensland Arrowroot"
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Large "red type"
Large "red type"
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"Small red type"
"Small red type"
 
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