Dioscorea alata

Dioscorea alata
Purple Yam
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Dioscoreales
Family: Dioscoreaceae
Genus: Dioscorea
Species: D. alata
Binomial name
Dioscorea alata

Dioscorea rubella Roxb.[2]

Dioscorea alata, known as purple yam and many other names, is a species of yam, a tuberous root vegetable, that is bright lavender in color. It is sometimes confused with taro and the Okinawa sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas cv. Ayamurasaki). With its origins in the Asian tropics, D. alata has been known to humans since ancient times.[2]


Common names

Because it has become naturalized throughout tropical South America, Africa, Australia, the US southeast, D. alata has many different common names from these regions. In English alone, aside from purple yam, other common names include greater yam, Guyana arrowroot, ten-months yam, water yam, white yam, winged yam, or simply yam.[2] In other cultures and languages it is known variously as uhi in Hawaiʻi, ratalu or violet yam in India, kondfal (कोंदफळ) in Marathi, ube in the Philippines, rasa valli kilangu in Tamil, ʻufi in Tonga, Samoa and Tahiti, and khoai mỡ in Vietnam.



A piece of cake made with purple yam
Dioscorea alata tuber, the edible part of the plant.
Ube halaya in Philippine cuisine is made from mashed purple yam.

Purple yam is used in a variety of desserts, as well as a flavor for ice cream, milk, Swiss rolls, tarts, cookies, cakes, and other pastries. In the Philippines, it is eaten as a sweetened dessert or jam called ube halaya and added as an ingredient in the ice dessert called halo-halo. In Maharashtra, the stir-fried chips are eaten during religious fasting. Purple yam is also an essential ingredient in Undhiyu.

D. alata is also valued for the starch that can be processed from it.[2]


In folk medicine, D. alata has been used as a laxative and vermifuge, and as a treatment for fever, gonorrhea, leprosy, tumors, and inflamed hemorrhoids.[3]

Other uses

D. alata is sometimes grown in gardens for its ornamental value.[2]

Weed problems

Dioscorea alata is an introduced plant persisting in the wild in the United States in Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is also an invasive species, at least in Florida.[4]


  1. ^  Dioscorea alata was first described and published in Species Plantarum 2: 1033. 1753. "Name - Dioscorea alata L.". Tropicos. Saint Louis, Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://tropicos.org/Name/11000003. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e  GRIN (May 9, 2011). "Dioscorea alata information from NPGS/GRIN". Taxonomy for Plants. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland: USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?14175. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  3. ^ James A. Duke. "Dioscorea alata (DIOSCOREACEAE)". Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/duke/ethnobot.pl?ethnobot.taxon=Dioscorea%20alata. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Profile for Dioscorea alata (water yam)". PLANTS Database. USDA, NRCS. http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=DIAL2. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 

External links

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  • DIOSCOREA ALATA L. - ЯМС АЗИАТСКИЙ, ДИОСКОРЕЯ КРЫЛАТАЯ — см. 201. Многолетнее растение. D. alata L. Я. азиатский, Диоскорея крылатая Sp. pl. (1753) 1033. Knuth (1924) 265. Bois (1927) 480, ff. Тютин (1934) 4, рис. Wealth of India III (1952) 69. Жуковский (1964) 287. S у n. D. eburina Lour.; D. eburnea… …   Справочник растений

  • Dioscorea alata — ID 27506 Symbol Key DIAL2 Common Name water yam Family Dioscoreaceae Category Monocot Division Magnoliophyta US Nativity Introduced to U.S. US/NA Plant Yes State Distribution FL, GA, LA, PR, VI Growth Habit Vine, Forb/herb …   USDA Plant Characteristics

  • Dioscorea Alata — L. Winged yam (E); Name de agua (S) . Roots of this and other species are edible, but should be carefully processed, as some are poisonous raw …   EthnoBotanical Dictionary

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  • Dioscorea alata — noun grown in Australasia and Polynesia for its large root with fine edible white flesh • Syn: ↑white yam, ↑water yam • Hypernyms: ↑yam, ↑yam plant …   Useful english dictionary

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  • Dioscorea — Dioscorea …   Wikipédia en Français

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