Wild Yam, Colic Root

Dioscorea villosa

Family: Dioscoreaceae
Genus: Dioscorea (dy-oh-SKOR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: villosa (vil-OH-suh) (Info)
Synonym:Dioscorea hirticaulis
Synonym:Dioscorea villosa var. hirticaulis




Vines and Climbers

Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer




Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:


Birmingham, Alabama

Cullman, Alabama

Morrilton, Arkansas

Coushatta, Louisiana

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Saucier, Mississippi

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Altoona, Pennsylvania

Dauphin, Pennsylvania

Trinity, Texas

Muscoda, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jan 8, 2013, TraceyKW21 from Chambers Estates, FL wrote:

I have only grown it in an enclosed greenhouse setting and found that it is very susceptible to thrips.


On Jan 26, 2005, julie88 from Muscoda, WI (Zone 4b) wrote:

This plant is also native to most of Wisconsin (I'm in z4b) according to the UW Stevens Point site. I found it growing in the margins of the Wisconsin River marsh near my home. The seed pods make an excellent addition to dried autumn arrangements.


On Oct 7, 2002, Michaelp from Glendale, UT (Zone 5a) wrote:

Low (and slow) germination. Nice-looking plant; good growth,leaves are longer than wide,and have very conspicuous veins,leaves are alternate[the lower ones in whorls of 3 to 8] -- no bug damage or pests seen. It grew one long vine with no side shoots for the first 6 feet,than it began to fill out. Slender vine stems climb well with support.

Highly sought after for DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone, a natural, intermediate steroid hormone produced in the human body by the adrenal glands), and used for anti-aging herbal formulas.

Leaves may contain some kind of toxn, as no bugs eat them.