wild yam

(Dioscorea villosa)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

wild yam

NatureServe

N4N5 - Apparently Secure to Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

None
Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

FAC - Facultative

Midwest

FAC - Facultative

Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative

Nativity

Native

Occurrence

 

Habitat

Moderate moisture. Open woods, thickets, roadsides, river-bottom forests. Full or partial sun.

Flowering

May to August

     
Flower Color

White to cream

     
Height

Climbs up to 18

     

Identification

This is a perennial, herbaceous vine that rises from slender, pale brown, knotty, woody cylindrical rhizomes. It is usually found trailing over adjacent shrubs and bushes.

The stems are slender, rarely branched, usually hairless and climb up to 18, twining counterclockwise.

The leaves are alternate, though the lowest leaves may appear whorled. They are untoothed, 2 to 4 long, 1 to 4 wide, heart-shaped, with convex sides. They gradually taper to a sharp point with concave sides along the tip. They are deeply cleft at the base where they attach to a long, slender leaf stalk. They have 9 to 11 (rarely 7) prominent veins and netted lateral veins. The upper surface is smooth and shiny. The underside is downy.

Male and female flowers are not borne on the same plant. The female inflorescence is a solitary, 2 to 4 long, drooping spike-like head borne in a leaf axil. The male inflorescence is a solitary, widely branched, 3 to 6 long, drooping cluster of 1 to 4 male flowers per node. The flowers are 3 to 6 parted and wide.

The fruit is a greenish-gold, 3-winged capsule with wide, winged seeds.

 
Similar
Species

 


Distribution Range Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28.

Comments

 


Taxonomy

Family:

Dioscoreaceae (yam)

 
Synonyms

Dioscorea glauca

Dioscorea hirticaulis

Dioscorea paniculata

Dioscorea paniculata var. glabrifolia

Dioscorea quaternata

Dioscorea quaternata var. glauca

Dioscorea villosa var. glabrifolia

Dioscorea villosa var. hirticaulis

 
Common
Names

Chinaroot

colic root

colic-root

wild yam

yam root


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

 

axil

The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.

 

rhizome

A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

       

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Slideshows

   
  Plant portrait - Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa)
Identify that Plant
 
   
 
About

Published on May 1, 2013

A detailed look at the life cycle of Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa). These images can help to accurately identify the plant during different seasons of the year.

 
     

 

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Other Videos

 
  Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa)
wvoutdoorman
 
   
 
About

Published on Apr 26, 2012

Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa) video

 
     
  wildcrafting video: Wild Yam digging (Dioscorea villosa)
wvoutdoorman
 
   
 
About

Published on Oct 1, 2012

wildcrafting video: Wild Yam digging. (Dioscorea villosa). Recent prices are a couple bucks a pound. It would take around 100 to 300 hundred to make a dried pound depending on the size dug.

 
     
  Wild Yam
Darryl Patton
 
   
 
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Uploaded on Sep 2, 2009

More than just a "women's" herb, Wild Yam is becoming more and more popular as a treatment for the pains of IBS or irritable bowel complaints. Wild Yam is a good herb to use as an anti-inflammatory as well as to treat liver and gallbladder issues.

 
     

 

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