Advanced Search Filters

Plant Type
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
Sunset Zone
Function
Sun Exposure
Soil Moisture
Water Requirement

DIOSCOREA villosa

Image of Dioscorea villosa

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Dioscoreaceae

Botanical Name

DIOSCOREA villosa

Plant Common Name

Wild Yam

General Description

Wild yam is a herbaceous perennial vine found over much of eastern and central north America. This highly variable twiner occurs in many forms and inhabits a diversity of open and forested habitats including wetland and watercourse edges, rocky slopes, and roadsides.

The slender, smooth, green or purplish stems of this hardy perennial arise in spring from brownish underground rhizomes. Stem length ranges from 1 to 7 meters, depending on the individual plant and its habitat. Handsome, glossy, heart-shaped leaves with conspicuous sunken veins occur alternately or in pairs along the stem. The lower leaves are sometimes arranged in whorls. Branching clusters of small greenish-white flowers develop at the leaf axils in spring or early summer. Male and female flowers are produced on separate plants. Flowers on female plants ripen into three-winged capsules that eventually split, releasing the flat seeds.

Wild yam does best in partial shade and moist to average, well-drained soil. Plants in full sun require ample moisture. This attractive and interesting vine makes a good subject for naturalistic gardens within its native range.

Although related to culinary yams, Dioscorea villosa does not produce edible tubers.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 8

  • Plant Type

    Vine/Liana

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    3'-20' / 0.9m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, Central United States, Texas, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Vining/Climbing

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    White, Light Green

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Blue Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Blue Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Blue Green, Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Vine, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No