Air potato event around the corner


Published: Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 16, 2009 at 8:42 p.m.

Volunteers will gather on Jan. 31 in more than 30 natural areas around Gainesville to remove a hazard to native plants.

Facts

Air potato roundup

    Volunteers are needed for the annual air potato roundup.
  • What: The 10th Annual Great Air Potato Roundup. Volunteers are needed to pick up tubers of the air potato.
  • When: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Jan. 31. Registration for volunteers ends Jan. 26.
  • Where: More than 30 different natural areas throughout Gainesville. Locations are assigned after registering.

  • For more information or to register, visit http://www.natureoperations.org or call 352-334-2227.

The Nature Operations Division is partnering with the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council to host the 10th Annual Great Air Potato Roundup on Saturday, Jan. 31 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The air potato is an invasive plant that can grow eight inches a day and overtake native vegetation, said Ludovica Weaver, marketing technician for environmental programs.

“It will smother them (plants) and basically kill them,” she said. “It has killed two trees in my yard.”

During the cold weather, the plant’s vines die and drop the light air potato to the ground, which then will sprout and allow the invasive plant to continue to spread.

During the Jan. 31 roundup, volunteers will fan out across wide areas, picking up as many air potatoes as possible, which will remove the opportunity for these potatoes to grow into vines, Weaver said.

The air potatoes will then be deposited in a landfill, where they are contained and do not have a chance to sprout again.

The morning roundup will end in a festival held at Morningside Nature Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers will receive a T-shirt. There will be food, live entertainment and guest speakers, said Sally Wazny, program coordinator for the division.

A prize will be awarded for the largest and most unusual potato gathered in the roundup.

Wazny describes the roundup as multi-faceted.

“It’s a really positive thing for Gainesville,” she said, “for the people and natural community.”

When registering, volunteers will be told what location they have been assigned to. Site leaders will educate volunteers on the air potato and show them what to look for.

Last year, 1,171 volunteers showed up and collected 15,740 pounds of air potatoes.

For more information or to volunteer, visit http://www.natureoperations.org or call 352-334-2227. Registration ends on Jan. 26.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top