pronounced: dy-oh-skor-AY-see-eye

the yam family


Dioscorea was named for Pedanius Dioscorides, (c.40 AD—c.90 AD), Greek physician and pharmacologist. The family contains many interesting succulent caudiciforms and species with underground tuberous roots. Both caudices and tubers store water and starchy food reserves to carry the plant through periods of dormancy. They are mostly climbing vines, without tendrils, with cordate or lobed leaves, net-veined. They are dioecious, with tiny flowers. The fruit is a berry, a capsule or a samara, and the seeds are usually flat and winged. Included are the edible yams that have been cultivated in Africa and Asia for some 10,000 years, important crops in many countries. Many of these yams contain toxins to discourage predators, and require careful preparation before they can be eaten.
Since 2003, the members of the former Taccaceae family have been included in this family.



Photograph original uploaded by Aruna on ml.wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons