Today we are going to be treating varieties of Yam and their botanical name but before we start, what is a yam and what are the characteristics of a yam?
What is a yam?
A yam is a root vegetable which is like a potato, and grows in tropical regions. It belongs to the kingdom plantae and subkingdom Tracheobionta.
Characteristics of a Yam
- Yam plants have thick tubers (generally a development of the base of the stem) which often have thick, almost barklike skin.
- It is a spermatophyta (seed bearing plant)
- The long, slender, annual, climbing stems bear lobed or entire leaves that are either alternate or opposite.
- It is a monocot of the class Liliopsida and subclass Lilidae
- The unisexual flowers are borne in long clusters.
- Division: Magnoliophyta
- Genus: Dioscorea
- Order: Liliales
- Family: Dioscoreaceae
What is the botanical name of Yam?
The botanical name of yam is Dioscorea spp.
Why is the botanical name of Yam is Dioscorea app?
This is because there are variety of species of yam and each of them has its own botanical name.
Species/Varieties of yams
- White yam
- Yellow yam
- Water yam
- Chinese yam
- Wild bitter yam
- Bitter yam
- Cush-Cush yam
Types of Yam and their botanical names
- Bitter yam – The botanical name of bitter yam is Dioscorea dumetorum
The bitter yam is a plant native to Africa. It contains a fleshy, potato-like root (tuber) that can be used for food or medicinal in times of famine. Bitter yams found in the wild are likely to contain poisons, thus they must be soaked and boiled before eating. Farmers’ bitter yams, on the other hand, are normally free of poisons because safer varieties are produced selectively.
- White yam – The botanical name of white Yam is Dioscorea rotundata
This is a commonly farmed yam species in Africa, having over 200 variations.
The white yam tuber is generally cylindrical in shape, with a smooth and brown exterior and white, firm flesh.
Botanical name of yam continues below…
- Water yam – The botanical of water yam is Dioscorea alata
Purple or winged yam is another name for this yam. The tuber’s shape is usually cylindrical, but it can vary. The flesh of the tuber is white and has a watery appearance.
Because of its extensive agricultural network, it is the most widely spread yam. It’s a tuber that can be found in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. They’re also known as purple yam, greater yam, or English winged yam.
After cassava and sweet potato, yams are Africa’s third most important tuber crop.
- Yellow yam – The botanical name of yellow yam is Dioscorea cayennensis
Yellow yams are similar to sweet potatoes, however they are not a sweet potato substitute. The primary distinction between the two tubers is that yams are larger and have a thicker skin, whilst sweet potatoes are smaller and have a thin peel.
Botanical name of Yam continues below…
- Wild bitter yam – The botanical name of wild bitter yam is Dioscorea esculenta
This is the third most popular yam variety. The origins of this species can be traced back to Southeast Asia. The tubers are baked, boiled, or fried in the same way that potatoes are. Mechanical cultivation is possible due to the tiny size of the tubers, which, together with its ease of preparation and flavor, could help the lesser yam become more popular in the future.
- Cush-cush yam – The botanical name of Cush-Cush yam is Dioscorea trifida
It’s a perennial climbing plant with 3 meter-long twining stems that grow from a tuberous rootstock. These stems scramble across the ground or entangle themselves into the vegetation.
The plant’s edible root is commonly farmed in tropical places, particularly in South America and the Caribbean.
- Chinese yam – The botanical name of Chinese yam is Dioscorea polystachya
It’s an ornamental vine that comes from Asia. It grows in North America as well, but it is unrelated to the popular sweet potatoes known as yams. Cinnamon vine and shan yao are two other names for Chinese yam.
Chinese yam has traditionally been used to treat stomach, spleen, lungs, and kidney diseases in Chinese herbal medicine.
Diosgenin, found in the roots of Chinese yam, can be utilized to make steroid hormones like estrogen and progesterone in the lab.
While both the tuber and the bulbs of the Chinese yam are edible, only the tuber is commonly eaten.
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