Dioscorea praehensilis Benth.

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Dioscorea praehensilis

Katanga DRC; Mar 2012.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Dioscorea praehensilis

Stem right twining
Lusaka SE 13km; Feb 2012
Photo: Mike Bingham

Dioscorea praehensilis

Right twist;
Lusaka SE 13km; Oct 2013.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Dioscorea praehensilis

Female flowers
Lusaka SE 13km; Feb 2012
Photo: Mike Bingham

Dioscorea praehensilis

Male flowers;
Lusaka SE 13km; Dec 2008.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Dioscorea praehensilis

Mature capsules;
Lusaka SE 13km; Jun 2009.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Dioscorea praehensilis

Tubers old and new;
Lusaka SE 13km; Dec 2008.
Photo: Mike Bingham

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Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Synonyms: Dioscorea odoratissima Pax
Common names: Bush yam (English: Zambia) Mupama (Lenje)
Frequency: Locally common
Status: Native
Herbaceous twining vine reaching the tree canopy; main stem with catophylls, and scattered prickles, twining to right. Tuber up to 60 cm. long, descending vertically into the soil, often protected by spiny branches, white when young, turning brown. Leaves and stems without hairs. Tuber protected with short spiny rhizomes; stem with prickles; leaves opp., glabrous.
Type location:
Sierra Leone
Notes: The tubers are the most important yam and famine food, particularly in the drought-prone southern parts of Zambia. The tubers are detoxified by long boiling. The new growth begins in September, drawing on moisture and nutrients stored in the tuber.
Derivation of specific name: praehensilis : prehensile
Habitat: Dry thicket, usually associated with other Dioscorea spp.
Altitude range: 1000 - 1200 m
Flowering time:Jan - Feb
Worldwide distribution: Widespread in West, East and Central Africa, reaching eastern Zimbabwe.
Zambian distribution (Flora Zambesiaca): N,W,C,E
Zambian distribution (Provinces): Nw,Lp,N,E,C,Lk
Growth form(s): Climber, liane.
Endemic status:
Red data list status: Lower Risk - near threatened
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Content last updated: Tuesday 15 October 2013

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 90. as Dioscorea odoratissima

Strugnell, A.M. (2006). A Checklist of the Spermatophytes of Mount Mulanje, Malawi Scripta Botanica Belgica 34 National Botanic Garden of Belgium Page 79.

White, F., Dowsett-Lemaire, F. & Chapman, J.D. (2001). Evergreen forest flora of Malawi Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Page 97. as Dioscorea odoratissima

Wilkin, P. (2009). Dioscoreaceae Flora Zambesiaca 12(2) Pages 127 - 129. (Includes a picture).

Other sources of information about Dioscorea praehensilis:

Our websites:

Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Dioscorea praehensilis
Flora of Malawi: Dioscorea praehensilis
Flora of Mozambique: Dioscorea praehensilis
Flora of Zimbabwe: Dioscorea praehensilis

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Dioscorea praehensilis
African Plant Database: Dioscorea praehensilis
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Dioscorea praehensilis
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Dioscorea praehensilis
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Dioscorea praehensilis
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Dioscorea praehensilis
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Dioscorea praehensilis
JSTOR Plant Science: Dioscorea praehensilis
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Dioscorea praehensilis
Plants of the World Online: Dioscorea praehensilis
Tropicos: Dioscorea praehensilis
Wikipedia: Dioscorea praehensilis

Copyright: Mike Bingham, Annette Willemen, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Mark Hyde, 2011-24

Bingham, M.G., Willemen, A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. and Hyde, M.A. (2024). Flora of Zambia: Species information: Dioscorea praehensilis.
https://www.zambiaflora.com/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=115420, retrieved 27 May 2024

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