Wild Yam, Dioscorea villosa
Dioscoreaceae or Yam Family 


Herbaceous sprawling vine.  Leaves usually in whorls, heart shaped, pointed, with strong veins.  Flowers extremely tiny on thin stalks in the axils of the leaves.  Male and female flowers in separate clusters, or even on separate plants.  Male flowers (right and below right) white,six-parted, in dense clusters. Female flowers (below left and center) loosely arranged on the stalk, green, six-parted, at the end of little cucumbers.  Blooms in late spring to early summer.  Fruit (bottom two rows) green flattened pods, turning brown, bursting open to release seeds, and persisting into the following spring.

Occasional in shady spots along the trails, bike path, and Wildwood Drive.

Tiny flowers and pods are good identifiers, but the distinctive whorled, heart shaped, embossed leaves are most likely to be noticed. The related, but alien, cinnamon vine or Chinese yam has similar leaves, except that they are shaped more like spear points and are usually borne singly or in pairs or threes, not in whorls.

More Information

Male flowers 
Female flowers Closeup of female flowers Closeup of male flowers
Very young fruits   Young fruits
Mature fruits   Olde, open fruits\

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