Please donate to support our ‘Plants to Save the Planet’ Project. The Project is directed at enabling designers of ‘carbon farms’ and ‘food forests’: agroecosystems of perennial plants, to choose the most appropriate plants for their requirements and site conditions. We are working on a subset of plants in the PFAF database identified as having the most potential for inclusion in such designs. We are adding search terms and icons to those plants pages, and providing a range of search options aligned to categories of plants and crop yields, with Help facilities including videos. More >>>

Follow Us:

 

Dioscorea alata - L.

Common Name Water Yam, Purple yam, Greater yam, White yam
Family Dioscoreaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Edible species of Dioscorea have opposite leaves whilst poisonous species have alternate leaves[ 174 ]. The uncooked tuber of this species is toxic, and is said to produce narcosis[ 332 ]. Saponin is present and cooking renders the tubers safe to eat[ 332 ].
Habitats Not known in a wild state.
Range Probably arose in cultivation in E. Asia - Malaysia.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade
Dioscorea alata Water Yam, Purple yam, Greater yam, White yam


International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
Dioscorea alata Water Yam, Purple yam, Greater yam, White yam
https://botanicimage.com/

 

Translate this page:

Summary

Water Yam or Dioscorea alata is a tuberous root vegetable originated in the Asian tropics. Its tubers are usually bright lavender in colour. It is also known as purple yam, greater yam, Guyana arrowroot, ten months yam, white yam, and winged yam. It is perennial, fast growing, and climbing plant that grows up to 15 m long. The tubers are cooked ? used in variety of desserts and as flavouring. It can be toxic if eaten raw. Medicinally, it is used as a laxative and verfimuge and used to treat fever, gonorrhoea, leprosy, tumours, and inflamed haemorrhoids.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Dioscorea alata is an evergreen Perennial Climber growing to 15 m (49ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. The flowers are pollinated by Wind, Insects. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Dioscorea atropurpurea Roxb. Dioscorea globosa Roxb. Dioscorea javanica Queva. Dioscorea purpurea Ro

Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root
Edible Uses:

Root - cooked[ 300 ]. Usually boiled or baked and used as a vegetable[ 300 , 301 ]. An average of 3 roots are produced by the plants, these usually each weigh in the range of 5 - 10kg, though exceptionally they can weigh up to 60 kg[ 300 ]. The root needs to be properly cooked, it can be toxic if eaten raw[ 332 ]. The plant produces aerial tubers and these can be eaten in the same way as the tubers[ 301 ].

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.


The tuber is grated, mixed with brown stout vinegar, then spread onto paper and placed on the small of a woman's back to prevent or forestall a threatened miscarriage[ 348 ].

Our new book Edible Shrubs is now available.

Edible Shrubs provides detailed information, attractively presented, on over 70 shrub species. They have been selected to provide a mix of different plant sizes and growing conditions. Most provide delicious and nutritious fruit, but many also have edible leaves, seeds, flowers, stems or roots, or they yield edible or useful oil.

Read More

Edible Shrubs Book

Other Uses

Other Uses: None known

Special Uses

Cultivation details

Plants grow best in lowland tropical areas up to an elevation of 1,000 metres with a temperature around 26 - 34°c; a well-defined dry season of 4 - 5 months; and a total rainfall of 1,000 - 1,500mm evenly distributed throughout the remainder of the year[ 300 ]. Plants are not frost tolerant[ 418 ]. Amongst the many cultivars of this species, there are forms that are tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions[ 300 ]. For best yields, this species requires a deep, well-drained, sandy loam that is not liable to water-logging[ 300 ]. It also grows well in medium to clay loams[ 300 ]. Although more tolerant of poor soils than most other members of this genus, plants respond well to the application of organic matter[ 300 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.8 - 8.5[ 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 ]. Plants take 7 - 10 months to mature a crop[ 300 ]. Yields of 20 - 25 tonnes per hectare have been obtained[ 300 ]. There are some named varieties[ 300 , 301 ]. A dioecious species, both male and female plants need to be grown if seed is required.

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:

Fahrenheit:

image

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, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

Shop Now

Propagation

Seed - rarely produced in cultivation, they are not normally used to propagate this species. 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 ]. Aerial tubers can also be used, they usually produce vigorous plants[ 300 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

geflügelter yam, grande igname, greater yam, guyana arrowroot, igname ailée, igname de chine, inhame, sewalli kodi, storjams, tabena, ten-months yam, wasser yamswurzel, water yam, white yam, winged yam, yam, ñame blanco, ñame de agua, Ambi, Asiatic yam, Avase, Ba-chhim, Batatilla, Boboyassi, Chupri alu, Cucam, Cucui-mo, Dago, Damloong chhiem moen, Dandaba, Daunini, Duok, Ep, Gbara-gue, Goradu, Huwi, Igname ailea, Ilumbelumbe, Kaavathu, Kachchilkilangu, Kachil, Kaile, Kamo, Kap, Katalu, Katula, Kep, Kham, Khamalu, Khanulu, Khoai-mo, Kinampai, Kiseba, Kwalo kau, Lengu, Lipeta, Luktu, Mach alu, Man-sao, Man, Manbuo, Mon, Nane, Nangate, Nruireu, Obbi, Oewi, Onthalaigasu, Oo-yama-imo, Oobi, Ovy, Pacala, Pahui, Pandalamu, Perumvalli kizhangu, Pindalu, Pokok ubi, Ractaguranialu, Raja-ala, Rambachim, Ratula, Sakourou, Shen shu, Taai-shue, Tarul, Telngot, Tung-genasu, Tus, Ubi tiyang,

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Anguilla, Asia, Australia, Barbados, Benin, Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Caribbean, Central Africa, Central America, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo DR, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, East Africa, East Timor, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guiana, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Marianas, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Nigeria, North America, Northeastern India, Pacific, Palau, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, Polynesia, Puerto Rico, Samoa, SE Asia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Southern Africa, South America, Sri Lanka, St Lucia,

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.

Vigorous twining herbaceous vine invasive outside cultivated areas. It is included in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2012), and is listed as a “noxious weed” in Florida and as an invasive species in Cuba, Costa Rica and several islands in the Pacific [1d].

Conservation Status

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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Dioscorea batatasChinese YamPerennial3.0 4-11  LMHSNM550
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 -  LMHSNM22 
Dioscorea esculentaLesser Yam, Potato Yam, Chinese Yam, Wild YamPerennial Climber3.0 8-12 FLMSNM400
Dioscorea japonicaGlutinous Yam, Japanese yamPerennial Climber0.0 0-0  LMHNM42 
Dioscorea kamoonensis Perennial Climber2.5 -  LMHNM21 
Dioscorea tokoro Perennial Climber0.0 -  LMHNM22 
Dioscorea trifidaCush Cush Yam, Sweet yamPerennial Climber3.0 10-12 FLMHSNM400
Dioscorea villosaWild YamPerennial Climber3.0 5-9  LMHNM24 
Tamus communisBlack BryonyPerennial Climber3.5 4-8 MLMHSNM12 
Test_20170320_2Aerial Yam, Air PotatoPerennial Climber10.0 0-0 FLMHSNM420

 

Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment

Author

L.

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.

Readers comment

QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.

2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.

3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Dioscorea alata  
All the information contained in these pages is Copyright (C) Plants For A Future, 1996-2012.
Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567,
Web Design & Management
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Some information cannot be used for commercial reasons or be modified (but some can). Please view the copyright link for more information.