- Dioscorea alata is the most extensively cultivated of the edible yams. There are hundreds of cultivars worldwide (L. Degras 1993; D. G. Coursey 1967), varying in the color and consistency of the flesh. The bulbils may also be eaten, but the large tubers are favored. Typically the plants are propagated vegetatively. The species is not known to exist in the wild, and its putative origin is from Southeast Asia. [source]
Click on the language to view common names.
Common Names in Bengali:
Bengo Nari, Chupri Alu, Kham Alu
Common Names in Burmese:
Myauk Uu Ni, Taw Myauk Uu
Common Names in Chinese:
Da Shu, Shen Shu
Common Names in English:
Purple Yam, Greater Yam, Guyana Arrowroot, Name-De-Agua, Ten-Month Yam, Ten-Months Yam, Ube, Ubi, Violet Yam, Water Yam, White Manila Yam, White Yam, Winged Yam, Winged Yam Dioscorea Alata, Yam
Common Names in French:
Grande Igname, Igname Ailée, Igname De Chine
Common Names in German:
Geflügelter Yam, Wasser Yamswurzel, Wasseryam
Common Names in Hindi:
Chupri Alu, Khamalu, खमालू, जुपरी आलू
Common Names in Japanese:
Common Names in Kannada:
Common Names in Laotian:
Common Names in Nepalese:
Ghara Tarul, Kukur Tarul
Common Names in Oriya:
Common Names in Portuguese:
Inhame, Inhame Da India
Common Names in Russian:
Dioscoreia Krylataia, Dioskoreia Alata, Iams Belyi, Iams Krylatyi
Common Names in Sanskrit:
Common Names in Spanish:
ñame Blanco, ñame De Agua, Tabena
Common Names in Tamil:
Mullu Valli, Perumvalii Kilangu, Peruvalli, Yams Kallu
Common Names in Telugu:
Dukka Pendalam, Gunapendalamu, Niluva Pendalum, Niluvapendalamu, Niluvu Pendalam
Common Names in Thai:
Man Bak Hep (Don Daeng), Man Liam (Northern Thailand), Man Sao (Central Thailand), Noi (Chiang Mai)
Common Names in Vietnamese:
Khoai Long, Khoai Ngà, Khoai Tía, Khoai Trút
or woody vines
, rarely erect
, small herbs. Rootstock
. Stem twining to left or right
, sometimes prickly. Leaves alternate or opposite, petiolate
or palmately compound
, basal veins 3--13, interstitial
veins reticulate; leaflets
of palmately compound leaves often ovate
or lanceolate. Flowers usually unisexual
dioecious, rarely monoecious), sometimes bisexual
, solitary, clustered, or in cymules
, these in a spike, raceme
, or thyrse
, these sometimes grouped into panicles. Male flowers: perianth lobes
6, in 2 whorls, basally connate
; stamens 6, sometimes 3 reduced to staminodes or absent, inserted
on perianth or receptacle; ovary rudimentary
or absent. Female flowers: similar to male ones; staminodes 3, 6, or absent; ovary inferior, 3-loculed, ovules usually 2 per locule (more than 2 in a few small genera), placentation axile
; styles 3, free. Fruit a capsule, berry, or samara. Seeds with a membranous wing
or not; endosperm present; embryo small.
About nine genera and 650 species: widely distributed in tropical and temperate regions , especially in tropical America; one genus and 52 species (21 endemic, two introduced ) in China.
, variable in color, shape
, chemical constituents, and depth in ground
. Bulblets axillary
or absent. Leaves alternate or opposite, petiolate
or palmately compound
, basal veins 3--9. Flowers unisexual
dioecious, rarely monoecious), arranged spirally in axillary, usually elongate
spikes or racemes
, or in small cymules
in ± spikelike thyrses
, these often several together, sometimes gathered into a terminal
or axillary panicle by reduction of subtending
leaves. Male flowers: stamens 6, 3 sometimes reduced to staminodes or absent. Female spikes 3.5--10 cm, few flowered. Female flowers: staminodes 3, 6, or absent. Capsule 3-winged, dehiscent
apically at maturity. Seeds with a membranous wing
More than 600 species: widely distributed in tropical and temperate regions ; 52 species (21 endemic, two introduced ) in China.
Dioscorea is a genus of great economic value, including important food plants. Several species are widely cultivated in many cultivars (including Dioscorea alata D. esculenta D. japonica and D. polystachya), while other, wild species are valuable famine foods. Other species are sources of drugs both in traditional Chinese and Western medicine (notably D. nipponica and D. zingiberensis which are major sources of steroid precursors) .
Species Dioscorea alata
; tubers 1-many, stalked
and ± deeply buried,
), often massive, weighing up to several
, flesh starchy, white or variously colored
. Stems twining
up to 20 m
, broadly winged
, 4-angular, producing bulbils
up to 4 cm in diam. in leaf axils
often purplish. Leaves alternate
proximally, opposite and ultimately decussate distally, 6-16 ×
4-13 cm; petiole
as long as blade
, winged, base
, growing as extensions
of wings, less than 1 mm wide;
blade 5-7-veined, ovate
, base typically sagittate
entire, apex acute to acuminate. Staminate
1-2 per axil, paniculate
, fasciculate; panicles bearing flowers singly,
, in a zigzag pattern
along rachis, internodes less than
2 mm; rachis to 25 cm, secondary axes 1-3(-6), fasciculate, less
than 3 cm, each subtended by deltate-ovate bracteole shorter than
inflorescences solitary, 4-8(-20) -flowered, 6-35
cm, internodes ca. 1 cm. Staminate flowers
: perianth whitish, cup-shaped;
tepals ca. 1 mm, connate
at base in 2 subequal
whorls, outer widely
ovate, inner narrower, apex obtuse
in both; fertile
6 in 2 equal whorls; anthers
, thecae distinct
. Pistillate flowers: perianth lightly colored; tepals
broadly ovate, ca. 1 mm, fleshy
; staminodes 6, smaller than fertile
stamens. Capsules not reflexed
at maturity, broadly ovate, ca. 2
× 3.5 cm. Seeds winged all around. 2n = 30, 40, 50, 60, 70,
80. Flowering late summer; fruiting into late fall
Dioscorea alata is the most extensively cultivated of the edible yams. There are hundreds of cultivars worldwide (L. Degras 1993; D. G. Coursey 1967), varying in the color and consistency of the flesh. The bulbils may also be eaten, but the large tubers are favored. Typically the plants are propagated vegetatively. The species is not known to exist in the wild, and its putative origin is from Southeast Asia. It has escaped from cultivation in the southeastern United States, recorded here from Florida and Georgia, although it is likely to be found elsewhere in the Gulf states. The plants seldom flower in the flora area; I observed no staminate flowers at all, and very few pistillate ones. Although the fruits do set seed, the seeds are frequently unviable. [source]
Habit: Vine , Forb/herb
Flowers: Bloom Period: July. • Flower Color: inconspicuous, none
Size: 30-40' tall.
Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 4,028 meters (0 to 13,215 feet).
Culture: Space 12-15" apart.
Soil: Minimum pH: 6.1 • Maximum pH: 7.8
Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Full Sun .
Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b. (map)
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- Haeckel, 1866
- Cavalier-Smith, 1981
- Sinnott, 1935 ex Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Vascular Plants
- Kenrick & Crane, 1997
- Brongniart, 1843
- Takhtajan, 1967
- Superorder: Dioscoreanae () - (J.d. Hooker, in Le Maout & Decaisne, 1873) Takhtajan, 1997 Ex Reveal & Doweld, 1999
- Subclass: Liliidae () - Takhtajan, 1967
- Class: Spermatopsida () - Brongniart, 1843
- Infraphylum: Radiatopses () - Kenrick & Crane, 1997
- Subphylum: Euphyllophytina ()
- Phylum: Tracheophyta () - Sinnott, 1935 ex Cavalier-Smith, 1998 - Vascular Plants
- Subkingdom: Viridaeplantae () - Cavalier-Smith, 1981
- Kingdom: Plantae () - Haeckel, 1866 - Plants
Publishing author : L. Publication : Species Plantarum 1753 (1 May 1753)
Members of the genus Dioscorea
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 47 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:
D. alata (Purple Yam) · D. altissima (Dunguey) · D. bulbifera (Aerial Yam) · D. bulbifera var. bulbifera (Air Potato) · D. cayenensis (Yellow Guinea Yam) · D. cayennensis (Yellow Guinea Yam) · D. cirrhosa (Dyeing Yam (Philippines)) · D. communis (Lady´s-Seal) · D. composita (Yam) · D. convolvulacea (Yam) · D. cylindrica (Wild Yam) · D. deltoidea (Wild Yam) · D. discolor (Ornamental Yam) · D. dumetorum (Bitter Yam) · D. elephantipes (Elephants Foot) · D. esculenta (Chinese Yam) · D. floribunda (Yam) · D. floridana (Florida Yam) · D. glabra (Chinese Yam) · D. hemicrypta (Dioscorea) · D. hispida (Intoxicating Yam) · D. japonica (Glutinous Yam) · D. kamoonensis (Kamoon Yam) · D. macrostachya (Yam) · D. macrostachys (Elephants Foot) · D. mexicana (Barbasco) · D. nummularia (Yam) · D. oppositifolia (Chinese Wild Yam) · D. pentaphylla (Five-Leaf Yam) · D. pilosiuscula (Bulbous Yam) · D. polygonoides (Mata Gallina) · D. praehensilis (Bush Yam) · D. prazeri (Wild Yam) · D. preussii (Preuss' Dioscorea) · D. purpurea (Podicherry Sweet Potato) · D. quaternata (Fourleaf Wild-Yam) · D. rotundata (Guinea Yam) · D. sagittata (Five-Leaved Yam) · D. sagittifolia (Wild Congo Yam) · D. sansibarensis (Zanzibar Yam) · D. septemloba (Seven-Lobed Yam) · D. spiculiflora (Yam) · D. sylvatica (Wild Yam) · D. tokoro (Mountain Yam) · D. tomentosa (Thorny Yam) · D. trifida (Indian Yam) · D. villosa (Colic Root)
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Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 12, 2007:
- Comisión nacional para el conocimiento y uso de la biodiversidad, Banco Nacional de Germoplasma Vegetal, México
- Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Virtual Herbarium Darwin Core format
- Herbarium of the University of Aarhus, The AAU Herbarium Database
- Herbier de la Guyane, Herbier de la Guyane
- Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad
- , Biodiversidad de Costa Rica
- International Plant Genetic Resources Institute(IPGRI), The System-wide Information Network for Genetic Resources
- Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri Botanical Garden
- National Herbarium of New South Wales, Plants of Papua New Guinea
- Taiwan Biodiversity Information Facility, Magnoliophyta
- Biodiversity Heritage Library NamebankID: 2662906
- Catalogue of Life Accepted Name Code: Kew-239747
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility Taxonkey: 13754997
- Globally Unique Identifier: urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:70824-3
- GRIN Nomen Number: 14175
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Taxonomic Serial Number (TSN): 43372
- International Plant Names Index (IPNI) ID: 70824-3
- MoBot NameID: 11000003
- Natural Heritage Network Species Identifier: PMDIO01010
- U.S.D.A. Plant Symbol: DIAL2
- Zipcode Zoo Species Identifier: 35651
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- Mean = 249.150 meters (817.421 feet), Standard Deviation = 993.410 based on 155 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]