Dioscorea alata

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Taxonomy
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Dioscoreales
Family: Dioscoreaceae
Genus: Dioscorea
Species: alata
Scientific Name
Dioscorea alata
L.
Common Names

winged yam, water yam

Overview

Appearance
Dioscorea alata is an herbaceous, twining vine that can grow to lengths exceeding 30 ft. (9.1 m). It invades open to shady areas in the extreme southeastern United States.
Foliage
Leaves are opposite, 8 in. (20.3 cm) long and narrowly heart-shaped with long petioles. The stems are square with the corners compressed into wings.
Flowers
The vine rarely flowers.
Fruit
The chief means of reproduction is by aerial potato-like tubers (bulbils) located at the leaf axils and by underground tubers.
Ecological Threat
Dioscorea alata can form dense masses of vines that cover and kill native vegetation including trees. It was introduced from Asia as a possible food source in the early 1800s. In some countries it is presently being cultivated for medicinal uses.

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