11 Mar2008


A few readers have brought up these unusual hanging ube before… I had never heard of or seen them in the flesh. So I was thrilled to stumble upon these hanging ube vines, complete with fruit hanging on the vine and a few pieces that had fallen to the ground, while traipsing through a backyard garden in Bicol. Locals thought poorly of this fruit, and described it as being like a bad potato rather than a relative of a nice purple ube. Apparently the flesh can range from a creamy color to a more lavender version, depending on soil quality, etc. I never got to see a fruit sliced open, but I will take their word for it that they are not particularly brilliant… If you have a different opinion or can share some good uses for this fruit, I am certain readers will be thrilled to hear about it…


In the same garden, I came across these unusual looking fruit, with brownish almost chico like skins but not fuzzy at all. The folks who lived in the home didn’t even know the name of this plant/fruit, but said they were relatives of sineguelas… I have never seen these before and if any of you should know the name, please let me know… Thanks!



  1. Maria Clara says:

    Never seen or heard both of these produce you recently found. The hanging ube perhaps can be used in potato salad to add color to the dish or mixed with other veggies for colorful presentation undermining their lack of gastronomical flavor but for look. We always eat with our eyes first!

    Mar 11, 2008 | 4:31 am


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  3. millet says:

    i have that ube in my backyard, dark violet, and i’ve made it into into jam and other things. , it has very thin skin, none of the hard, knobby parts of the “underground” ube, and none of the wonderful fragrance of “kinampay”, but otherwise, it works just fine (and for that reason, kinampay would still be my top choice).

    Mar 11, 2008 | 7:11 am

  4. myra says:

    I don’tknow about the second fruit, but i know sineguelas, it’s a small fruit like duhat, it’s green in color,and it turns brown to red when it ripens, favorites of children to munch in their backyard.

    Mar 11, 2008 | 8:13 am

  5. CecileJ says:

    I have seen the hanging ube but have not tasted it. Those who have tried it say it makes a good haleyang ube. It seems such a good evolutionary turn for the ube, though, as one no longer has to dig up and wash the ube!

    Mar 11, 2008 | 8:51 am

  6. Roberto Vicencio says:

    Wow! I have seen ube raised in a wicker basket filled with rice husk but first to see it on a vine.

    Mar 11, 2008 | 8:58 am

  7. rachel says:

    i remember this from when i was younger and would spend summer vacation in our farm.iniihaw lang namin yung ube.maliliit lang pati yung hanging ube.it’s also good boiling it with salabat.comfort food ‘to para sa’min.masarap lalo na pag umuulan.

    Mar 11, 2008 | 9:23 am

  8. tings says:

    My parents have hanging ube in their backyard and if anything, it’s better than the ones that grow in the ground. It is just as flavorful and yummy but much easier to cook. We have so many of them that relatives are starting to turn us down whenever we offer them haleyang ube because they said they’re already turning purple from eating so much of it. They can grow so big that one time, my Mom harvested an ube that was about 2 kilogram!

    Mar 11, 2008 | 9:27 am

  9. bijin says:

    i check your blog everyday even if i don’t leave a commnet… some of the food…veggies/fruits you have featured are new to me so this makes for very interesting and informative read….

    keep them coming…

    Mar 11, 2008 | 10:11 am

  10. dee bee says:

    this is so interesting… i’ve always thought of ube as a root crop.

    Mar 11, 2008 | 10:25 am

  11. funcamnow says:

    Stumbled upon your blog yesterday and can’t stop reading! It makes good reading on a cold, snowy day in the American midwest. Reminds me so much of my childhood in the Philippines. It’s a pity Philippine culinary culture is not as popular as Chinese or Thai. It’s certainly just as flavorful, colorful and to me more subtle, even sublime.
    Kudos to the blog.

    Mar 11, 2008 | 10:37 am

  12. Lenlen S. says:

    I remember we have plenty of this hanging ube in our backyard in San Pablo City ( many years ago ). Now that I live in Manila already I don’t get to see them anymore. My Mom will boil them ( like camote ) and we eat them with “sawsawan” na brown sugar and freshly grated coconut. Yummy!

    Mar 11, 2008 | 12:28 pm

  13. kasseopeia says:

    I’ve never seen ube that wasn’t buried in soil. This is very interesting. If the texture (and taste) is more potato-ey, then a purple mashed potato may be good to make. Or a purple potato salad, as Maria Clara suggested. A warm purple potato salad which i am sure my aunt would mistake for beets then she’ll fume at me *lol* … that would be just great!

    MM, about how big were those siniguelas relatives? To me, they look almost 2x larger than a usual siniguelas.

    Mar 11, 2008 | 1:32 pm

  14. mixxy says:

    Isn’t the hanging ube the same as the “kamoteng kahoy”?

    Mar 11, 2008 | 5:28 pm

  15. Marketman says:

    mixxy, no, as far as I know, kamoteng kahoy is cassava, not hanging ube…

    Mar 11, 2008 | 6:04 pm

  16. risa says:

    To add confusion to the discussion, is the hanging ube the fruit of the root crop ube?

    I’ve seen ube “fruit” before, but the fruit I saw was dark purple and shiny. (They were sold in a pail, and my mom thought they were “panghilod” stones.) They could be made into haleya, and as the others said, it has a smoother texture than the root crop.

    Mar 11, 2008 | 6:36 pm

  17. Marketman says:

    risa, I think the hanging ube is a totally different plant from the underground ube.

    Mar 11, 2008 | 7:44 pm

  18. Apicio says:

    Mixxy, another difference is ube is a vine while kamoteng kahoy is a tree.

    Hanging ube might very likely be just a variation of the root-crop ube since a plant I saw once bore both air-borne and underground ube crop. Now it might sound truly far-fetched to you but I actually witnessed a large langka that grew and ripened underground off the burried trunk of the tree being dug up by the owner.

    Mar 11, 2008 | 10:56 pm

  19. lee ann says:

    hehehe. weird. we have both of those unusual plants in san mateo, rizal. my lola likes collecting plants from different areas and plant shows and she plants them in our farm.

    its nice to see them featured here. :D

    Mar 11, 2008 | 11:12 pm

  20. Homebuddy says:

    They are called air potatoes. There is a yellow variety and a purple one. Its a climber and the fruits are edible but like weeds, they grow anywhere. After fruit bearing, it shrivels up like ube and can be propagated by sticking the small fruits into the ground with the eye protruding from the ground.
    As to its uses, its just like root crop but the texture is by no means like ube! Instead when cooked its like sayote.
    The only time I use them is when I cook “binignit” ( the tagalog term eludes me but some of you might know what it is. A mixture of rootcrops, bananas, langka, bilo=bilo, etc… in sweetened coco-milk) Hehehe, sorry.

    Mar 12, 2008 | 12:16 am

  21. Marketman says:

    Homebuddy, benignit or binignit is ginataan, and thanks for the clarification between yellow and purple air potatoes… that would explain why the one I saw were pale and the ones in other parts of the country can be quite purple…

    Mar 12, 2008 | 6:56 am

  22. CecileJ says:

    Can they be fried to make violet colored potato chips?

    Mar 12, 2008 | 9:17 am

  23. vennisjean says:

    My dad planted that kind of ube in our yard and lets it climb on our mango tree, that thin vine can produce a fruit that weights almost 1.5 kilos.maybe the soil quality does affect its texture coz ours was great and my mom even made it into halaya.Maybe just like root ube it also has the “lagat”(the teaxture is poor quality and doesn’t taste good. While ours is “labo” which tastes sweet and the texture is creamy.

    Mar 12, 2008 | 10:32 am

  24. Homebuddy says:

    Vennisjean, I totally agree with you. Maybe what I had was “lagat”.
    Thank you MM for the translation. Bisdak kasi eh!

    Mar 12, 2008 | 11:19 am

  25. corrine says:

    Very interesting indeed! Goes to show what gems our countryside possesses. Keep them coming. You can make an book about Philippine fruits, trees and plants, MM!

    Apicio, I have heard about langka growing underground. Lucky you to have actually seen it.

    Mar 12, 2008 | 3:06 pm

  26. Nei says:

    Thank you for posting this! You have no idea how much this will redeem myself haha!

    I was telling my officemates about having a hanging ube vine plus a potato version (I think this is what Homebuddy referred to as air potatoes) in our backyard some years back . We harvested them to make ube jam and french fries, respectively. The ube vine was quite, um, “fruitful,” and we got so sick of ube that we just let the vine dry up. The potato vine dried up after a while too, and we dug the soil out of curiosity. Lo and behold! We unearthed a humongous tuber the size of a basketball!

    Sadly, digicams weren’t common back then and nobody wanted to believe the hanging potato and ube vine story. This post absolutely changes everything! Thank you! I’m dragging my officemates now to see this :)

    Mar 12, 2008 | 5:55 pm

  27. paolo says:

    The hanging fruits are probably Zapote, common in Mexico.

    Mar 13, 2008 | 5:35 am

  28. melody says:

    we had this kind of ube back in our province when i was younger but i have never seen the other fruit before. we also have a langka tree wherein some of the fruits come from underground. it actually caused the floor in our living room to crack because it was growing underground. the smell of ripe jackfruit would permeate our house because of that. sadly, we had to cut it because it was more expensive to change the flooring every now and then.

    Mar 13, 2008 | 10:31 am

  29. ryan says:

    we have this ube in our yard. the flesh is a nice purple color. my mom uses it when she cooks ginataang halo-halo with bilo-bilo. the second fruit i believe is indeed a relative of the sineguelas. they had a tree in the province when she was younger, and she used to eat these as a snack in the afternoon.she tells me it’s like indian mango.

    Mar 14, 2008 | 9:19 pm

  30. marie says:

    hi marketman! i haven’t stumbled upon any of these fruits. we have farm produce that includes ube pero ito kakaiba. anyway, if you know of a trader who is interested to market our agri products from our province, i would be very interested to deal with him. at present, we have (approx.) 200 tons of round kinampay ube variety and (approx) 10 tons of fresh ginger. we also have other agri products as well as family properties that are for sale like islands and beaches here in Palawan. thanks a lot.

    Mar 26, 2008 | 11:41 pm

  31. Brian says:

    well, i saw those “hanging potatoes”, its what my mom calls them, in Siaton, Negros Oriental and we tried to make french fries out of it. it does taste and smells like potatoes (or home made french fries rather) but its kind of bitter. its flesh is pale green when sliced open and the skin is not thin like the one on a real potato. some of our neighbors slices them into thin chips then sun-dries them and then fries them. i’m not sure if its bitter because its not yet ripe or ready to be eaten though.

    Mar 29, 2008 | 6:01 pm

  32. Brian says:


    its “Dioscorea bulbifera” in wikipedia.

    Mar 29, 2008 | 6:20 pm

  33. zofhia says:

    we’ve been growing these kind of ube for many years. my lolo likes it because harvesting it is not as difficult as the ones grown underground and it much easier to peel. it has a very dark and vibrant hue, picture a beet that is puple that is how the inside looks, that makes haleya so appealing. but i don’t like it as much as the tuber kind becoz its quite bitter.

    about the second fruit.. did you say its fuzzy? about a week or two i was strolling in salcedo sat market when i saw a similar looking fruit however i forgot the name.. i’ll look it up tomorrow.

    Apr 18, 2008 | 6:52 pm

  34. Marie says:

    Dioscorea Batatas (ube) has two sets of tubers – above ground and underground. It’s not at all unusual, in fact it’s sometimes referred to as “air potato vine.” Google “Chinese yam” and see for yourself.

    I’m guessing that your strange “sineguelas” is not sineguelas at all but smooth-skinned kiwifruit. It’s Chinese gooseberry, a vine. Siniguelas is a drupe – a tree, not a vine.

    Aug 10, 2008 | 9:45 pm

  35. kevin says:

    Did you know they put this in icecream?????

    Aug 12, 2008 | 12:45 pm

  36. Marketman says:

    kevin, ube ice cream is a classic Filipino flavor, but it isn’t necessarily made with this type of hanging ube, rather a more purple and more common underground ube.

    Aug 12, 2008 | 1:13 pm

  37. ATE BENG says:

    many thanks to everyone. i have grown this kind of ube once and, for me, just like the “underground ube”, masarap din (when i made the haleya). as of now, my ube has plenty of airborne fruits. i asked info about this kind of ube ‘coz i want to know the maximum weight and size before i could harvest them. (Sa ngayon, most of them are fist-size. if you have more info, about this, please do not hesitate to email me directly, too. thanks.

    Sep 2, 2008 | 12:19 pm

  38. Chit says:

    what’s the Philippine government’s official proclamation on hanging ube? very few in Basey, Samar have planted hanging (vine) ube – the one with the “fruit” hanging (to be cookec and eaten like the root ube) but none has shown how it is cooked, and, yes, eaten. we have this vine plant in our yards. quizzical people want to plant but would first want to see how to cook and eat it without any danger. most importantly, they want to hear from the National Nutrition Council, Food Nutrition and Research Institute, Dept. of Science and Technology, Dept. of Agriculture Central Office, and the botanists. any answers or guidance, please? thank you in advance for your emailed replies.

    Oct 27, 2008 | 2:54 pm

  39. Chit says:

    please send your replies on hanging ube to delatorrechito@yahoo.com
    thanks a million to all

    Oct 27, 2008 | 2:56 pm

  40. Sirak says:

    Brian is right. The first picture is Dioscorea bulbifera. Common names are aerial yam or potato yam. Some local names include abobo, karibobo and … (can’t write it here because it’s censored). A few farmers grow them, but it is usually found growing in the wild. The “fruit” is not a fruit; it is a tuber, an aerial one. It also produces ground tubers, but they’re usually small. Marketman is right: it is different from ube which is Dioscorea alata (greater yam, purple yam, red yam, water yam, wing-stemmed yam, etc.) although it is a relative. One clear difference: it has round stem while ube has angular or winged stem. Some folks use aerial yam as meat extender, but I’ve also read that some of its varieties can be toxic. I know some purple varieties of this plant tastes bitter, but some are ok. But perhaps I won’t be taking more risks until I know more.

    Nov 12, 2008 | 5:38 pm

  41. Glenda Kendall says:

    we also have ube plan in our property back in Batangas after 6 month old ube plant will bear a fruits hanging in the vine.
    My father said is not good to eat beacause it taste bitter.Ube plant dont have seed and my father using ube fruit hanging to start a new Ube plant. And after year old you can have a good ube roots that you can dig underground. About the second picture i never see that in philippines my self but its look like KIWI fruits for me, common here in Japan

    Dec 29, 2008 | 1:43 pm

  42. ed martin says:

    i grew up in pampanga knowing that ube has secondary fruit that is hanging on the vine aside from the primary or main tuber underground. the tuber is larger than the hanging fruit. It is the tuber that is used in food preparation while the small hanging fruit is the one that you plant for the next season. in thailand, there is a potato that bears fruit on the vine and it is called “air potato”. about the second picture, i’ve never seen this before.it could not be a kiwi, since kiwi is on a vine and the fruit is protected by fuzz.

    Jun 16, 2009 | 11:05 pm

  43. pio banares says:

    the second fruit, is a dangerous fruit! it is also piosonous! that is a tree that bicolano in albay first district calls it LAPIT-LAPIT!
    you must not eat that kind of fruit. once you pick it, a white substance if drop in your cloths will never be remove by any king of zonrox or detergent soap. animals ang birds dont ever intent to eat that fruit.
    that is not KIWI FRUIT! IT IS A POISONOUS LAPIT-LAPIT TREE FRUIT. sometimes it is twin friut like a testes of men.

    Jun 21, 2009 | 11:23 pm

  44. paige says:

    I know I’m very late to post here, but I just came across this discussion when I was trying to look up the difference between Okinawa sweet potato and ube yam.
    We live in Arizona on the Mexican border, and the second fruit looks exactly like what they call here “mamey” or “mamey sapote.” The inside is a salmon-pink color when ripe with soft texture. You can eat it plain or make into ice cream or smoothies. It has a big black seed which is poisonous. The skin feels like it is covered in dried mud to me.
    I could be mistaken of course, because I don’t know a lot about Fil. fruits, just though I’d add my two cents.

    Aug 17, 2009 | 2:16 am

  45. bert says:

    The second fruit is common in General Santos City, sometimes they called it mangagensan. We have that kind of plant and it does not grow tall. The young fruit taste like green mango and like a sineguelas when ripe. The skin of the ripe fruit is yellow. Its seed is a little bit similar to sineguelas, only it has more protruding fibers.

    Aug 21, 2009 | 1:10 pm

  46. imelda says:

    i had one grown in my yard but i dont know when its time to harvest the fruit. they are already big.

    Oct 28, 2009 | 8:31 am

  47. roger says:

    how can i market my air potato coz’ i got lots over my house…i came from batangas city…i want to make this air potato a business…can you help me to market this air potato?

    Dec 3, 2009 | 1:52 pm


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