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Wanted Dead/Not Alive

By Staff | Jan 12, 2012

These second and fourth graders recently joined Sanibel Environmental Specialist Holly Downing on a round-up of more than 115 pounds of air potatoes (and one raccoon skull!) from the SCCF Center Tract behind St. Isabel’s Catholic Church.

Wanted Posters have been placed throughout Sanibel Island encouraging posse of all ages to maintain a vigilant lookout and aid in the capture of a nogoodnick whose particularly aggressive nature and penchant for peskiness combine to make this culprit wanted, more dead, than alive. Especially brazen in committing offenses in broad day light, this bad guy is described as having a rather small, bulbous head and a complexion of light to dark brown – like a potato. He may be in the company of certain vines, which are equally destructive in their propensity for snuffing out the life of others, none more tragically, than certain native plant species.

Dioscorea bulbifera (which goes by the alias of Air potato) may have a bad rap, but it’s a reputation well deserved says City of Sanibel Environmental Specialist Holly Downing. A non-indigenous, highly invasive plant species (believed to have arrived here from seafaring ships centuries ago), Downing says vines of the air potato grows at such an incredible speed as to surround and suffocate nearby fauna. The potato, which has no medicinal or edible value that anyone can discern – Downing says neither mashing nor baking can make them taste good. What’s more, air potatos cannot be cut in two, or three, and then thought to wither and die – Downing says this only spurs further growth. The only thing that helps is gathering as many as possible for a death conviction where all are thrown into a fire, burned into an ashen crisp and dumped into some obscure, unmarked grave – a wretched fate befitting this most callous of murderers to native plants.

To further achieve an end to the torment wrought from the dreaded air potato, the City of Sanibel is sponsoring the 2nd Annual Air Potato Round-Up (or “Exchange”) on January 15, 2012. Anyone who comes to the Sanibel Farmer’s Market with at least 25 air potatoes will be given a free native plant in return. As bounty collection awards go, native plants are limited to one per household. There will also be prizes given for the biggest, smallest and weirdest varieties of air potatoes collected. For more information, visit the City of Sanibel website at www.mysanibel.com.