African Plant Database

Dioscorea bulbifera L.
Protologue : Sp. Pl. 2: 1033 (1753)  
Information on the genus : Dioscorea
Status for TA : accepted (present)
Synonym(s) Homotypic
 Helmia bulbifera (L.) Kunth
 Polynome bulbifera (L.) Salisb.
Synonym(s) Heterotypic
=Dioscorea latifolia var. anthropophagorum A. Chev.
=*Dioscorea anthropophagorum A. Chev. (1913)
=Dioscorea bulbifera var. anthropophagorum (A. Chev. ex Jum.) Prain & Burkill ex Summerh. (1931) (MA = accepted; TA = rejected)
=Dioscorea bulbifera var. sativa Prain
=Dioscorea hoffa Cordem. (1895)
=Dioscorea hofika Jum. & H. Perrier
=Dioscorea latifolia Benth. (1849)
=Dioscorea latifolia var. longipetiolata (Baudon) A. Chev.
=Dioscorea longipetiolata Baudon (1913)
=Dioscorea perrieri R. Knuth (1924)
=Dioscorea sylvestris De Wild.
=Dioscorea zara var. var. violacea (Baudon) A. Chev.
=Dioscorea violacea Baudon (1913)
=Dioscorea sativa Thunb. non L.
=Dioscorea crispata Roxb.
=Dioscorea heterophylla Roxb.
=Dioscorea korrorensis R. Knuth
=Dioscorea pulchella Roxb.
=Dioscorea rogersii Prain & Burkill
=Dioscorea sativa var. elongata F.M. Bailey
=Dioscorea sativa var. rotunda F.M. Bailey
Taxon infra-specific
Dioscorea bulbifera var. anthropophagorum (A. Chev. ex Jum.) Prain & Burkill ex Summerh. (1931)
Ecology and distribution
Trop. Afr.
Biology : Vigorous vine with annual stems 3-12 m long, leaft-twining, terete, unarmed, glabrous; tuber perennial, irregularly ovoid to subglobose, occasionally elongate, sometimes absent; leaves as in D. asteriscus, alternate, petiole to 8 cm long, blade to 14-18 cm long and broad, often much smaller; aerial axillary bulbils subglobose to ovoid, 0,6-3 cm Ø, rounded, poisonous (var. bulbifera, i.e. non-cultivated forms), or angular, flattened, to 10 cm long, brown, edible (var. anthropophagorum, i.e. cultivated forms); inflorescences as in D. asteriscus, simple or compound, except that flowers are sessile, turned toward inflorescence apex in both genders; male flower tepals (sub)erect, 2 mm long, pale pink; female flower ovary not restricted just below perianth; capsule only 1-2,2(-3)x0,1-1,5 cm; seed winged at basal end. – Not possible to distinguish from D. asteriscus in the sterile state.
Ecology : Rain-forest; secondary evergreen bushland; steep slopes in broad-leaved riverine forest and forest edges; persisting in abandoned cultivated ground and by perennial rivers; mopane woodland; swamp sides; sand; forest regrowths; secondary forests; savanna; forest gallery; seasonally flooded sedge meadow; fallows; 0-1500 m alt.
  Domesticated in Africa. However, male material is very rare in or absent from collections in Africa, female races are perhaps preferred in cultivation
  The most widespread Dioscorea species: tropical Africa, extending from W Africa throughout along the coast and penetrating inland along migration and trade and travel routes; also in Asia to Polynesia.

Bibliography for Tropical Africa :
  • Boudet G. & J.P. Lebrun (1986). Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Mali. Etudes et Synthèses IEMVT 16
  • Cat. Pl. Vasc. Burkina Faso:59 (2012)
  • Darbyshire, I. Kordofami, M. & al. (2015). The plants of Sudan and South Sudan, An annoted checklist. Kew Publishing
  • César J. & C. Chatelain (2019). Flore illustrée du Tchad. Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de Genève, Coopération Suisse & Univ. N'Djaména

Bibliography for Southern Africa :
  • Food plants of Zimbabwe : 8 (1986).
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Record n°11233
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