Jason Hernandez wrote:Oh, yours are yellow! Then mine might not be bulbifera. Thank you for posting the ways to tell the species apart; if there are others besides bulbifera that produce aerial tubers, then I will need to look in detail and identify mine for sure.
Local Dominican farmers do not seem to have cultivar names like the ones you describe; I have been told of only two varieties, which they call simply white and yellow. Mine are the white, suited to the soil on my site which is not rocky; the yellow, I am told, does better where the soil is rocky.
I haven't eaten any of the aerial tubers yet, because I have been saving them for planting material. The yams get enormous, though! Here is a picture -- note that it is broken off; I couldn't get all of it out of the ground!
How's the ID coming along? Have you managed to identify other species in your collection?
I maintain strict nomenclature for the bulbiferas to minimize the odds of redundant varieties and to perpetuate each individual line. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if I had a few repeated varieties: Jim and Steve's Hawaii might be one and the same, and Pínczow seems quite similar to those (and despite being obtained from and named for a European city, the vendor assures he originally obtained it from the US). As for the other yams with cultivar names, it's inconsistent. We do occasionally get named varieties in local markets (Florido is the standard alata here), most are just referred to by species name (Guinea Yam for rotundata, Mapués Yam for trifida, Gulembo Yam for Rajania cordata). They use cultivar names at the Ag research station, but the local farmers rarely do so.
That definitely looks like an alata to me! They grow feral in the hills here, there's always yams if you know where to look. The piece that stayed behind will likely sprout by itself as well.
A contact of mine said Saipan Purple is about half as bitter as the wild bulbiferas. 1 boil makes it partially bitter, with an accompanying toxic effect – he ate a pound of it with one boil, and the bitterness was tolerable, but it left him with a headache. 2 boils is suspected of being sufficient to render it edible.
Despite the setback of a hungry chicken breaking its growing tip, it's already putting on growth like crazy. In fact, all my yams are growing, with only a couple of air potato varieties still beneath the soil surface (but even those have started the sprouting process).
The diversity in physical traits is surprising. The Asian types are relatively variable in both bulbil and vine traits, and those varieties that are similar to one another are growing apart in separate places on the trellis, no big risk of confusion. Two pockmarked, two bumpy, one knotted, one smooth, two purples, easy peasy.
Meanwhile, the African types are much more similar in vine traits, and I suspect in bulbil traits as well. I made the mistake of putting them all in the same spot, and they are growing in a tangle of vines that's hard to identify. I'm going to try to track each vine to its roots when the bulbils come in, otherwise I'm going to have to eat all the bulbils (none for planting) and re-propagate from the roots next season. Keeping each variety properly identified is crucial, I can't afford to make a mistake in ID'ing them, confusing them could cost me a variety.
I'll post some pics now, but let me say the photos don't do them justice, the vines are quite vibrant! I hope they're posted correctly (I'm noticing some pics seemingly flipped on their side as I upload). Here goes...