Taxon: Dioscorea alata L.

Genus: Dioscorea
Family: Dioscoreaceae
Nomen number: 14175
Place of publication: Sp. pl. 2:1033. 1753
Link to protologue:
Name Verified on: 12-May-1995 by ARS Systematic Botanists. Last Changed: 09-May-2011
Species priority site is: Natl. Germplasm Repository - Miami (MIA)
Accessions: 0 in National Plant Germplasm System

Common names:

Economic Importance:

  • Environmental: ornamental (fide Invasive Pl Spec)
  • Human food: starch (fide Dict Econ Pl; Invasive Pl Spec)
  • Human food: vegetable (tubers are consumed cooked fide Use Pl WT Afr)
  • Gene sources: primary genetic relative of greater yam (based on compatibilities at the same ploidy level fide Euphytica 128:228-229. 2002)
  • Medicines: folklore (fide Herbs Commerce ed2)
  • Weed: (fide Invasive Pl Spec)

Distributional Range:


  • Asia-Temperate

    • Eastern Asia: Taiwan
  • Asia-Tropical

    • Indian Subcontinent: India ; Nepal
    • Indo-China: Myanmar ; Thailand ; Vietnam
    • Malesia: Borneo ; Indonesia Celebes, Java, Lesser Sunda Islands, Sumatra; Malaysia ; Philippines
    • Papuasia: New Guinea

  • Naturalized

  • Africa

    • East Tropical Africa: Tanzania
    • Northeast Tropical Africa: Ethiopia
    • South Tropical Africa: Angola ; Malawi ; Mozambique ; Zambia
    • West Tropical Africa: Benin ; Mali ; Togo
    • West-Central Tropical Africa: Cameroon ; Central African Republic ; Gabon ; Rwanda ; Zaire
    • Western Indian Ocean: Comoros ; Madagascar ; Seychelles
  • Asia-Temperate

    • China: China
  • Australasia

    • Australia: Australia
  • Northern America

    • Mexico
    • Southeastern U.S.A.: United States Florida, Georgia
  • Pacific

    • Northwestern Pacific: Micronesia
    • South-Central Pacific: French Polynesia Society Islands; Pitcairn
    • Southwestern Pacific: Fiji ; Niue ; Samoa ; Tonga
  • Southern America

    • Brazil: Brazil
    • Caribbean: Dominican Republic ; Jamaica ; Puerto Rico ; Trinidad and Tobago
    • Central America: Belize ; Costa Rica ; El Salvador ; Guatemala ; Honduras ; Nicaragua ; Panama
    • Northern South America: French Guiana ; Guyana ; Suriname ; Venezuela
    • Western South America: Colombia ; Peru

  • Cultivated


  • Webster's third new international dictionary. (Websters Dict)
  • Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. et al. Flora of St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 78:1-581. (F St John)
  • Aldén, B., S. Ryman, & M. Hjertson Svensk Kulturväxtdatabas, SKUD (Swedish Cultivated and Utility Plants Database; online resource on 2012 (Kulturvaxtdatabas)
  • Arnau, G. et al. 2009. Revision of ploidy status of Dioscorea alata L. (Dioscoreaceae) by cytogenetic and microsatellite segregation analysis Theor. Appl. Genet. 118:1239-1249.
  • Bhattacharjee, R. et al. 2011. Chapter 4. Dioscorea (Wild Crop Rel Ind Cr) 71-96.
  • Burkill, H. M. 1985. The useful plants of west tropical Africa. (Use Pl WT Afr) 1:655-657.
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences Flora reipublicae popularis sinicae. (F China)
  • Dassanayake, M. D. & F. R. Fosberg, eds. A revised handbook to the flora of Ceylon. (F Ceylon)
  • Egesi, C. N. et al. 2002. Ploidy analysis in water yam, Dioscorea alata L. germplasm (Euphytica) 128:225-230.
  • Erhardt, W. et al. Zander: Handwörterbuch der Pflanzennamen, 17. Auflage. 2002 (Zander ed17)
  • Flach, M. & F. Rumawas, eds. 1996. Plants yielding non-seed carbohydrates (Pl Res SEAs) 9:90.
  • FNA Editorial Committee Flora of North America. (F NAmer)
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 2010. Ecocrop (on-line resource). (Ecocrop)
  • George, A. S., ed. Flora of Australia. (F Aust)
  • Govaerts, R. et al. World checklist of Dioscoreales: yams and their allies. 2007 (L Dioscoreales)
  • Grierson, A. J. C. & D. J. Long Flora of Bhutan including a record of plants from Sikkim. (F Bhutan)
  • Groth, D. 2005. pers. comm. (pers. comm.)
  • Hara, H. et al. An enumeration of the flowering plants of Nepal. (L Nepal)
  • Howard, R. 1979. Flora of the lesser Antilles. (F LAnt) 3:506.
  • Hsu, K.-M. et al. 2013. Molecular phylogeny of Dioscorea (Dioscoreaceae) in East and Southeast Asia (Blumea) 58:21-27.
  • Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium Hortus third. (Hortus 3)
  • Mabberley, D. J. The plant-book: a portable dictionary of the vascular plants, ed. 2. 1997 (Pl Book)
  • Malapa, R. et al. 2005. Genetic diversity of the greater yam (Dioscorea alata L.) and relatedness to D. nummularia Lam. and D. transversa Br. as revealed with AFLP markers Genet. Resources Crop Evol. 52:919-929.
  • Markle, G. M. et al., eds. Food and feed crops of the United States, ed. 2. 1998 (Food Feed Crops US)
  • McGuffin, M., J. T. Kartesz, A. Y. Leung, & A. O. Tucker Herbs of commerce, ed. 2. 2000 (Herbs Commerce ed2)
  • Nemorin, A. et al. 2013. Microsatellite and flow cytometry analysis to help understand the origin of Dioscorea alata polyploids Ann. Bot. (Oxford) 112:811-819.
  • Nemorin, A. et al. 2012. Inheritance pattern of tetraploid Dioscorea alata and evidence of double reduction using microsatellite marker segregation analysis Molec. Breed. 30:1657-1667.
  • Nkounkou, J. S. 1993. La section Enantiophyllum Uline du genre Dioscorea L. en Afrique Centrale Belgian J. Bot. 126:45-70.
  • Porcher, M. H. et al. Searchable World Wide Web Multilingual Multiscript Plant Name Database (MMPND) (on-line resource). (Pl Names)
  • Rehm, S. Multilingual dictionary of agronomic plants. 1994 (Dict Rehm)
  • Steenis, C. G. G. J. van, ed. 1951. Flora malesiana. (F Males) ser. 1, 4:330-331.
  • Steyermark, J. A. et al., eds. Flora of the Venezuelan Guayana. (F VenGuay)
  • Uphof, J. C. T. Dictionary of economic plants, ed. 2. (Dict Econ Pl)
  • Weber, E. Invasive plant species of the world: a reference guide to environmental weeds. 2003 (Invasive Pl Spec)
  • Wilkin, P. 2001. Dioscoreaceae of south-central Africa Kew Bull. 56:374.


Check other web resources for Dioscorea alata L. :

  • Flora of North America: Collaborative Floristic Effort of North American Botanists
  • PLANTS: USDA-NRCS Database of Plants of the United States and its Territories
  • BONAP North American Plant Atlas of the Biota of North America Program:
  • AVH: Australia's Virtual Herbarium
  • ABRS: Australian Biological Resources Study Flora of Australia online
  • TROPICOS: Nomenclatural and Specimen Database of the Missouri Botanical Garden
  • Mansfeld: Mansfeld's World Databas of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops
  • ePIC: Electronic Plant Information Centre of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • AGRICOLA: Article Citation Database or NAL Catalog of USDA's National Agricultural Library
  • Entrez: NCBI's search engine for PubMed citations, GenBank sequences, etc.