In Southern California, I was pulling out some roots and grasses and weeds in our backyard, and I noticed something weird. It appeared like there was a grape-sized bulb of something connected to one of the roots below the top layer of dirt. I didn't puncture it or anything, but do you have any idea what this could be?

It reminded me of two things: an air sack on kelp and a potato.

Edit: I took some more photos, and I tried to break it apart. I was able to break it in half with one hand, easier than a potato but harder than a grape. It was a little juicy inside. I took more photos too.

Edit number two: We have dandelions. Does this seem like it could be a potato dandelion?

bulb foot

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Edit #3: So we have a lot of Dandelions and I thought these roots appeared to be connected to dandelion plants, so at first I thought they were potato dandelions. However, we I pulled out a different plant nearby, and it had very similar looking tubers connected to the roots. It was a small plant, but here's the picture, and a picture of a larger plant that I think is the same species as this one, but mixed with a bush. Can anyone positively identify it?

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Edit #4: Here's more pictures of the plant I'm seeking to identify, which appears to be a more developed individual on a neighbor's property, and it even has berries: enter image description here enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Does it taste like a potato? $\endgroup$ – Graham Chiu Jun 5 '16 at 23:06
  • $\begingroup$ @GrahamChiu Does it look like a potato? I'd rather not taste it or touch it for that matter. $\endgroup$ – A L Jun 5 '16 at 23:57
  • $\begingroup$ I do believe this is a potato dandelion. An answer that can confirm this would be nice. $\endgroup$ – A L Jun 8 '16 at 6:35
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think taste is a basic identifying character as well I think its NOT okay taste random an unidentified species. As a natural trend; many species with tuber-like food-storage organs, accumulate toxic metabolites (and belong herbal medicine, too) perhaps so that predators like mice or insects doesn't eat them up. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Oct 15 '16 at 8:49

This is an Asparagus species, and the root bulbs are storage organs. Unfortunately, I can't identify the species. There are 219 accepted species currently in TPL. I presume this is an ornamental plant. As far as I can see, the species is not recorded as naturalized in California.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you sure? Nothing on the plant looks like asparagus. It does appear to have berries on a more developed plant that I saw in the neighborhood. $\endgroup$ – A L Aug 29 '16 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ Actually maybe you're right, I did an image search for a random one of those species on your list, "Asparagus altissimus", and that looked kinda like this and had berries too. Are the berries and tubers and plant all edible do you know? $\endgroup$ – A L Aug 29 '16 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ I am aware that some Asparagus species root bulbs as well as young subterraneanous shoots are famine food in parts of Africa, but I don't know about their any of their properties, i.e. if they contain anything which might be irritating or even poisonous to humans. [Edit: Young shoots of A. officinalis, of course, are cultivated for human consumption, as you will know.] $\endgroup$ – R'n'E Sep 1 '16 at 7:33

Those are root nodules. They grow on root of plants (primarily Fabaceae) . They aren't harmful (but I'm not recommending to eat them). They are natural adaptation that ensures the plant's survival. They are important because they store water too for the plant during periods of drought.

Root Nodule this is an asparagus fern. a very invasive plant.


About the plant's specie, well, I can't determine. I'm not good at determining plant specie by roots.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @rg255 His question was "... but do you have any idea what this could be?" and I answered that. About identifying the specie (which was mentioned in the title), I can't say from what plant are those "balls" because I can't identify clearly the roots/leaves in the photos. He just said "...I was pulling out some roots and grasses and weeds in our backyard..." But if you do know what kind of plant that is, then feel free to drop an answer or add it and edit my answer. $\endgroup$ – rhavendc Jun 8 '16 at 6:58

protected by Chris Oct 16 '16 at 18:04

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