Chinese Yam or Cinnamon Vine, Dioscorea polystachya
(formerly D. batatas; sometimes called D. oppositifolia by mistake)

Dioscoreaceae or Yam Family

Leaf Weak, sprawling vine. Leaves usually single near base and in pairs or threes towards end. Leaves glossy green, shaped like spearpoints (hastate), with strongly marked veins. Sexes on different plants. Male flowers tiny, round, on thin stalks in leaf axils, whitish outside, purplish inside (below). Female flowers unknown in our area. Plants thus reproducing asexually, by the formation of olive-sized, warty, purple bulbils at the leaf bases (right). These fall to the earth when the plant dies and function as tubers to produce new plants in the spring

A handsome but invasive exotic from Asia, where both sexes are produced and the plant does reproduce sexually. In Wildwood it occurs occasionally sprawling over other vegetation, especially along the Riverway bike path.

The native wild yam has similar leaves, but they are heart-shaped and in multi-leaf whorls. It does not produce bulbils, but reproduces with flowers.


 Male flowers and buds