Is Dioscorea Villosa Edible?

Is Dioscorea Villosa Edible?

The meat becomes supple, soft, and succulent when cooked. These yams are, as we all know, exotic.

They originated in Papua New Guinea. But did you know there’s an eastern North American yam? I was astounded to hear of its existence and that it, too, is edible.

Dioscorea Villosa (wild yam) grows natively from New England to Minnesota and Ontario, then south to Virginia and Texas. It grows in wet woodlands, marshes, thickets, and hedges.

The herb was widely utilized throughout its habitat in North and Central America, with tribes in those parts favouring it for pain treatment, particularly menstrual cramps.

The root also helps to balance hormones (rebalancing the libido) and lessen the agony of delivery. The tubers were consumed.

How Do You Grow Dioscorea Villosa?

The American wild yam (Dioscorea Villosa or D. quaternata) is endemic to the Central and Eastern United States, ranging from Minnesota south to Texas and across to the Atlantic States, with the exception of northern New England.

It may be cultivated effectively in a greenhouse in northern latitudes since the plants like filtered light and warm, wet conditions.

The plant prefers partial to full sun, wet to mesic conditions, and is readily cultivated in good, well-drained soil. Plants in loam or sandy loam are hardy to at least -15°C.

Although this vine can tolerate mild shade, it is less likely to produce blooms and seed capsules. Insects and disease organisms are rarely a concern.

What Is Dioscorea Villosa Used For?

Some of this plant’s English common names reflect its usage in Native American and other traditional remedies.

Saponin extracts from the roots of many wild yams are considered anticoagulant, antisclerotic, antispasmodic, cholagogue, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, and vasodilator in traditional Russian herbal medicine.

There is minimal recent clinical research on Dioscorea Villosa, and a single study of a wild yam-containing cream for menopausal symptoms found little benefit.

The American Cancer Society claims that there is no proof that wild yam or diosgenin are safe or effective in humans.

How Do You Propagate Dioscorea Villosa?

Propagation is accomplished by either seed (difficult) or root cutting (easy). Because wild yam is dioecious, seeds only grow on female plants.

Seeds Propagation

Each portion of the distinctive three-winged seedpod carries two disc-shaped, winged seeds.

These seeds can be plucked from the ripe, dried pod and sowed right away, or they can be kept for later planting.

They should be seeded outdoors in pots, flats, or directly in a shady woods nursery bed in the fall, midwinter, or very early spring.

As the earth warms up in the spring, seeds germinate. The cold conditioning time, natural rain, snowfall, and fluctuating temperatures provided by putting the seeds outside are all beneficial to successful germination.

The highly delicate seedlings should be left alone for two years, save for weeding and watering.

The seedling can then be relocated to its ultimate site once the rootlet has begun to expand into a rhizome.

It takes four years to grow wild yam from seed to harvest a good-sized root.

Root Cuttings Propagation

Root cuttings are often taken in the fall after the parent plant’s fruit has developed and begun to die back.

Choose the young, active, and growing regions of the rhizome with numerous root hairs, then cut or break the piece to at least two inches in length.

Planting the cuttings immediately allows them to become acclimated to their new surroundings before the growth season begins.

Plant the running rhizome 2 inches deep and root hairs down. Although spring transplanting is allowed, disruption at this time of year might harm freshly developing vines.

An excellent cutting planted in a favorable position in the woods will grow into a harvestable-sized plant in two or three years.

Plants grown in shaded beds or greenhouse pots will reach harvestable size in a single season, with substantial additional yield if allowed to develop for the full two years.

What Is Dioscorea Villosa Root Extract?

The wild yam is a vine endemic to North America. Colic root, American yam, four-leaf yam, and devil’s bones are some of the other names for it.

This blooming plant has dark green vines and leaves that vary in size and form — but it’s most known for its tuberous roots, which have been used in traditional medicine to cure menstrual cramps, coughs, and upset stomachs since the 18th century.

Today, it is most often processed into a topical cream that is supposed to relieve symptoms of menopause and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

You may be wondering if wild yam root is useful for certain ailments.

What Are The Benefits Of Dioscorea Villosa Root Extract?

Wild yam root is supposed to help heal various ailments, although scientific research on these claims is either sparse or substantially disproved.

Hormone Imbalance And Production

Diosgenin is found in wild yam roots. Scientists can modify a plant steroid to make hormones like progesterone, estrogen, cortisol, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which are subsequently employed in medicine.

As a result, some proponents claim that wild yam root has similar effects to steroids in your body, giving a natural alternative to estrogen treatment or progesterone creams.

However, studies demonstrate that your body cannot convert diosgenin into these steroids.

On the other hand, Diosgenin requires chemical interactions that can only occur in a laboratory setting to be converted into steroids such as progesterone, estrogen, and DHEA.

As a result, scientific data does not yet support wild yam root’s usefulness in treating hormonal imbalance-related diseases such as PMS, poor sex desire, infertility, and weakened bones.

The Menopause

In alternative medicine, wild yam root cream is most typically used as an alternative to estrogen replacement treatment for treating menopausal symptoms such as night sweats and hot flashes.

However, there is little data to support its efficacy.

In fact, one of the few studies available indicated that 23 women who used wild yam root cream daily for three months saw no changes in menopausal symptoms.


Wild yam root has anti-inflammatory properties.

It has long been used to treat arthritis (which causes joint pain, swelling, and stiffness).

Notably, research shows that diosgenin derived from wild yam root can help prevent the advancement of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

In 30-day research in mice, orally feeding 91 mg of wild yam extract per pound of body weight (200 mg/kg) per day considerably decreased inflammatory indicators — and higher dosages of 182 mg per pound (400 mg/kg) greatly reduced nerve pain.

While these findings are encouraging, the further human study is required.


Anti-aging skin products frequently contain wild yam root.

According to one test-tube study, diosgenin may promote the creation of new skin cells, which may have anti-aging properties. However, there has been little study on wild yam roots.

Diosgenin has also been investigated for its possible depigmenting properties. Excessive sun exposure can cause hyperpigmentation or tiny, flat, brown, or tan patches on your skin that are harmless but sometimes considered unsightly.

Wild yam root creams, however, have not been shown beneficial for this use.

Where Is Dioscorea Villosa Native To?

Dioscorea Villosa is a twining tuberous vine indigenous to eastern North America.

It is also known as four leaf yam, colic root, rheumatism root, devil’s bones, and wild yam. It is ubiquitous and widespread from Texas and Florida north to Minnesota, Ontario, and Massachusetts.

The flower petal colour of Dioscorea Villosa is usually recognized to be green to brown to white. The flower petals range in length from 5 mm to 2 mm.

The flowers develop from the axil, which is where a branch or leaf connects to the main stem. On the inflorescence, there is only one bloom.

The plant’s fruit is a capsule that splits and releases the seeds within, allowing the seeds to disperse. Dioscorea Villosa fruit vary in size from 10 to 30 mm. Aerial bulblets are not produced by the bloom.

Is Dioscorea Villosa Perennial?

Wild Yam is an herbaceous perennial vine that grows to be 3-6′ long and is mildly rhizomatous but not aggressively so. Plants are dioecious, meaning they have both male and female plants.

The flowers are greenish-white, wispy, and moderately scented from June through July. The veins on the leaves are pretty appealing on their own.

Plants in severe shadow seldom grow vines, instead existing as a low whorl of 4-5 big leaflets on a short stem. Zone 4-8. The VA ecotype.

In the fall, the capsule turns dark brown and opens along the seams of the section to release the seeds. The perianth and style are generally still connected. Germination of seeds requires 60 days of cold stratification.

In Dioscorea Villosa Invasive?

Wild Yam thrives in situations of wet-mesic to mesic moisture and grows in partial sun to shade. Continuous shade may result in fewer blooms or capsules. Even in complete shadow, the leaves are the most visually appealing portion of the plant.

The rhizomatous root system, with brown rhizomes ranging from straight to extremely twisted.

The rhizomes branch and develop longer, allowing the plant to put up several stems in a larger region, but it does not spread vigorously. A little 2 to 3-inch slice is all that is required to start a plant.

There is a lot of research on the root’s therapeutic properties. Please see the notes at the bottom of the page. The plant can be found in woodlands and river-bottom forests in the wild.

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