African Plant Database

Dioscorea alata L.
Protologue : Sp. Pl. 2: 1033 (1753)  
Information on the genus : Dioscorea
Status for MA : accepted (naturalised-introduced)
Status for TA : accepted (naturalised-introduced)
Synonym(s) Homotypic
 Polynome alata (L.) Salisb.
Synonym(s) Heterotypic
=Dioscorea colocasiifolia Pax
=Dioscorea sapinii De Wild.
=Dioscorea atropurpurea Roxb. (1832)
=Dioscorea globosa Roxb. (1832)
=Dioscorea purpurea Roxb. (1832)
=Dioscorea rubella Roxb. (1832)
=Dioscorea vulgaris Miq.
Ecology and distribution
Trop. Afr.
Biology : Vigorous climber 10-15 m long, unarmed, glabrous, some forms with bulbils; highly distinctive: stems right-twining, square, with a wing at each angle; tuber annual, often large, to c. 6 cm Ø, (10-50x5-30 cm), single or digitate, descending vertically, branched, recurved or even twisted; leaves opposite, above often in whorls of 3-4; petiole 8-10 cm long, winged, decurrent on stem; blade ovate to broadly elliptic, deeply cordate at base with overlapping lobes, 6-22x3-18 cm, apex acute; male inflorescences flexuous, axillary (2 per axil), each spike with 12-20 sessile flowers, axis zig-zag, perianth ± globose; female inflorescences solitary spikes in leaf axils, 20-30 cm long, glabrous; capsule glabrous, emarginate, 2-2,5x3-3,5 cm; seeds winged all round.
Ecology : Cultivated in tropical Africa for its starchy tubers, sometimes persisting in fields, fallows, savannas, around villages, secondary forest and bushland, there appearing as a native plant; 0-1900 m alt.
Biol./Eco : Vine; distribution: Comoros, Africa, New World,

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)
  • César J. & C. Chatelain (2019). Flore illustrée du Tchad. Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de Genève, Coopération Suisse & Univ. N'Djaména

Bibliography for Southern Africa :
  • Checklist Flow. Pl. Sub-Saharan Africa : 754 (2006).
More info on :
see under Jstor_African Plant Initiative
see under Flore d'Afrique Centrale
see under Fgui
see under The International Plant Name Index
see under African Plants - a Photo Guide
see under Missouri Botanical Garden
More information >> ( work in progress )
Record n°11243
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