Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: 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

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

9 members have or want this plant for trade.

Vines and Climbers

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
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

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

Click thumbnail
to view:

By arsenic
Thumbnail #1 of Dioscorea villosa by arsenic

By julie88
Thumbnail #2 of Dioscorea villosa by julie88

By Zaragoza
Thumbnail #3 of Dioscorea villosa by Zaragoza

By ovrfncs
Thumbnail #4 of Dioscorea villosa by ovrfncs


2 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral TraceyKW21 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.

Positive julie88 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.

Positive Michaelp 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.


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

Cullman, Alabama
Morrilton, Arkansas
Coushatta, Louisiana
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Saucier, Mississippi
Frenchtown, New Jersey
Altoona, Pennsylvania
Dauphin, Pennsylvania
Trinity, Texas
Muscoda, Wisconsin

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