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Dioscorea trifida - L.f.

Common Name Cush Cush Yam, Sweet yam
Family Dioscoreaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known
Range Northern S. America - Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas; C. America - Panama to Guatemala; eastern Caribbean.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Dioscorea trifida Cush Cush Yam, Sweet yam

Dioscorea trifida Cush Cush Yam, Sweet yam


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Dioscorea trifida or Cush Cush Yam is a perennial climbing plant with a tuberous rootstock and twining stems about 3 m long. It can be found in northern part of South America where it is widely cultivated for its edible tuber. The tubers can be boiled or baked. It is a flowering plant. The flowers are green with six tiny tepals in the axils. The fruit is a winged, lightly hairy capsule.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Dioscorea trifida is an evergreen Perennial Climber growing to 3 m (9ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Wind, Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Dioscorea brasiliana Poir. Dioscorea braziliensis Willd.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root
Edible Uses:

Root - cooked[ 300 ]. Boiled or baked, some forms have an excellent flavour[ 300 ]. The cooked flesh is smooth in texture, attractive and of an unusually rich flavour that is readily appreciated and sufficiently moist in the mouth[ 301 ]. Roots are about 15 - 20cm long and 6 - 8cm in diameter[ 300 ]. The tuber is about 38% waxy starch that lacks amylose and has potential uses as a binder and thickener in food processing.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

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Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
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Other Uses

Vines of other Dioscorea species are grown as ornamentals.

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the moist tropics and subtropics. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 - 26°c, but can tolerate 10 - 36°c[ 418 ]. It can be killed by temperatures of 7°c or lower[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 2,600mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 4,000mm[ 418 ]. This species grows better at lower temperatures than most tropical yams[ 300 ]. Prefers a sunny position, tolerating some shade[ 418 ]. For best yields, most yams require a deep, well-drained, sandy loam that is not liable to water-logging[ 300 ]. This species will succeed in a wide range of soils so long as there is plenty of organic matter and they are well drained[ 300 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 6.7, tolerating 5.3 - 8[ 418 ]. Daylengths of more than 12 hours are preferred during the early growing season since this encourages vegetative growth; daylengths of less than 12 hours towards the end of the growing season will encourage tuber formation and development[ 300 ]. Crops can be obtained in 9 - 11 months from planting, yields of 15 - 20 tonnes per hectare have been achieved[ 300 ]. Plants produce groups of 5 - 50 tubers from enlarged stolons or runners[ 300 ]. This is perhaps the only cultivated yam species that has retained its full reproductive potential through seed formation[ 300 ]. There are some named varieties[ 46 , 300 ]. A dioecious species, both male and female plants need to be grown if seed is required.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sown in containers and planted out at the beginning of the growing season[ 300 ]. Cuttings of tubers. Small tubers can be cut into 2 - 4 sections, larger ones into 6 - 8 sections. Each section should have 2 - 3 dormant buds. The cut tuber is often left in the sun for several hours to promote wound healing and reduce the risk of fungal infection[ 300 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Aja e, Cara branco, Cara doce, Couche couche, Indian yam, Indienne, Inhame roxo, Kenke, Maona, Mapuey, Name blanco, Name, Sachapapa, Yampi yam,

Africa, Amazon, Antilles, Benin, Brazil, Burundi, Caribbean*, Central Africa, Central America, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, East Africa, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, North America, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, South America, Sri Lanka, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines - St. Vincent, Suriname, Tonga, Trinidad, USA, Vanuatu, Venezuela, West Africa, West Indies,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Dioscorea alataWater Yam, Purple yam, Greater yam, White yamPerennial Climber15.0 10-12 FLMHSM412
Dioscorea batatasChinese YamPerennial3.0 4-11  LMHSNM553
Dioscorea bulbiferaAerial Yam, Air PotatoPerennial Climber10.0 9-12 FLMHSNM420
Dioscorea cayennensisYellow Yam, Yellow Guinea yamPerennial Climber10.0 10-12 FLMSNM400
Dioscorea deltoideaYamPerennial Climber3.0 -  LMHSNM222
Dioscorea esculentaLesser Yam, Potato Yam, Chinese Yam, Wild YamPerennial Climber3.0 8-12 FLMSNM400
Dioscorea japonicaGlutinous Yam, Japanese yamPerennial Climber3.0 7-12  LMHNM420
Dioscorea kamoonensis Perennial Climber2.5 -  LMHNM21 
Dioscorea tokoro Perennial Climber0.0 -  LMHNM22 
Dioscorea villosaWild YamPerennial Climber3.0 5-9  LMHNM24 
Tamus communisBlack BryonyPerennial Climber3.5 4-8 MLMHSNM12 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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