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Genus: Dioscorea (yams)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Monocotyledons > Order: Dioscoreales > Family: Dioscoreaceae

The number of species in this cosmopilitan genus is quoted as anything between 600 and about 860, of which 23 are native to southern Africa. The term yam in the USA often refers to a variety of sweet potato rather than to true yams. Tubers cooked as a vegetable (high in starch). Diosgenin, a precursor of progesterone and cortisone is produced commercially using a number of species.

Species native to southern Africa

List from Archer (2003), Wilkin et al. (2010), Flora of Zimbabwe and Flora of Mozambique.

Dioscorea asteriscus

 

Dioscorea brownii

 

Dioscorea buchananii

Recorded from Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

 

Dioscorea bulbifera

Recorded from Zimbabwe.

 

Dioscorea burchellii

 

Dioscorea cochleari-apiculata

 

Dioscorea cotinifolia

 

Dioscorea diversifolia

 

Dioscorea dregeana

 

Dioscorea elephantipes

 

Dioscorea dumetorum

Recorded from Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Dioscorea hemicrypta

 

Dioscorea hirtiflora

 

Dioscorea praehensilis

Recorded from Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

 

Dioscorea quartiniana

Dioscorea retusa

 

Dioscorea rupicola

 

Dioscorea sansibarensis

Recorded from Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

 

Dioscorea schimperiana

Recorded from Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Dioscorea stipulosa

 

Dioscorea strydomiana

Endemic to Mpumalanga (Wilkin et al. 2010).

 

Dioscorea sylvatica

Dioscorea undatiloba

 

Publications

  • Archer, R.H. 2003. Dioscoreaceae. In Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds), Plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14: 1047-1049. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria. 

  • Wilkin P., Burrows J., Burrows S., Muasya A.M. and van Wyk E. 2010. A critically endangered new species of yam (Dioscorea strydomiana Wilkin, Dioscoreaceae) from Mpumalanga, South Africa. Kew Bulletin 65: 421-433.

 

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