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Common Name: Yam
Dioscorea deltoidea is a Perennial Climber up to 3.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
Edible species of Dioscorea have opposite leaves whilst poisonous species have alternate leaves[
E. Asia - Himalayas from Kashmir and Punjab eastwards to Nepal and China.
Forests and humus-rich soils, 1700 - 2800 metres in Kashmir[
]. Broad-leaved forests and scrub forests at elevations of 2000 - 3100 metres in western China[
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain. It is unlikely to succeed in any but the mildest areas. It is cultivated for its edible root in India[
]. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus.
Easily grown in a fertile well-drained soil in a sunny position or light shade[
]. Prefers a rich light soil[
Plants produce tubercles (small tubers that are formed in the leaf axils of the stems), and can be propagated by this means[
A climbing plant that supports itself by twining around the branches of other plants[
A dioecious species - both male and female forms must be grown if fruit and seed are required.
Tuber - cooked[
]. A slightly bitter flavour, it is usually boiled with some wood ash in order to remove the bitterness[
]. Some caution is advised. See notes below on other uses of the root and above on toxicity.
The juice of the root tuber istaken in the evening in the treatment of roundworm[
]. It is also used to alleviate constipation[
The roots of most, if not all, members of this genus, contains diosgenin[
]. This is widely used in modern medicine in order to manufacture progesterone and other steroid drugs. These are used as contraceptives and in the treatment of various disorders of the genitary organs as well as in a host of other diseases such as asthma and arthritis[
]. The roots of this species contain an average of 4.8% diosgenin[
A soap is obtained from the tuber[
]. This soap is due to the presence of poisonous saponins in the root[
]. Used for washing shawls and woollen cloth[
]. The soap is also used as a body wash to kill lice[
Seed - sow early spring to mid spring in a sunny position in a warm greenhouse and only just cover. It germinates in 1 - 3 weeks at 20°c[
]. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow on in a greenhouse for their first year. Plant out in late spring as the plant comes into new growth.
Basal stem cuttings in the summer[
Division in the dormant season, never when in growth[
]. The plant will often produce a number of shoots, the top 5 - 10 cm of the root below each shoot can be potted up to form a new plant whilst the lower part of the root can possibly be eaten[
Tubercles (baby tubers) are formed in the leaf axils. These are harvested in late summer and early autumn when about the size of a pea and coming away easily from the plant. They should be potted up immediately in individual pots in a greenhouse or cold frame. Plant out in early summer when in active growth[