Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Chinese Wild Yam, Cinnamon Vine
Dioscorea oppositifolia

Family: Dioscoreaceae
Genus: Dioscorea (dy-oh-SKOR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: oppositifolia (op-po-sit-ee-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Dioscorea batatas
Synonym:Dioscorea opposita
Synonym:Dioscorea divaricata

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

26 members have or want this plant for trade.

Edible Fruits and Nuts
Vines and Climbers

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

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:
Pale Pink
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

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)

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

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There are a total of 19 photos.
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5 positives
3 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Dean48089 On Jul 27, 2013, Dean48089 from Warren, MI (Zone 6b) wrote:

I am always looking for vines to grow in the spring-flowering bushes because, frankly, many of those bushes don't look like much the rest of the year. I bought this plant as Dioscorea batatas, an older name, also because I thought having a winter-hardy sweet potato would be cool. My only mistake was in that it needs VERY large bushes or even small trees in which to grow. Whomever put "8-10 feet" must live in the upper Yukon or something. These plants routinely grow 20+ feet each year, from the ground, here in southeast Michigan. I can see were it would be invasive out in the wild, but here in my garden it is relatively easy to control. Just snap off the vines at ground level. There'll be another, and perhaps another, but eventually the tuber gives up and dies. I seldom do that because I really like this plant. The leaves are always fresh and perky, defining "lush growth." The flowers are very interesting, though nothing that I would refer to as attractive. I've never caught a scent off them, will have to remember to intentionally smell them next time I'm out. It grows rampantly through the bushes and trees without 'strangling' or otherwise harming anything. It also does very well on an arbor, as long as you remember to get a realy BIG arbor.

Positive SteveOh On May 12, 2013, SteveOh from Cherry Grove, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

Plants are slow to start in the first year, with no flowers but a few bulbils. In the second year (I left them in the ground over winter z6) the growth is much stronger, 10' by mid May with thick red-purple vines and leaves. Quite striking in the spring, the vines look similar to long, thin, purple asparagus spears without leaves for several weeks, they were nearly 8' tall before the first red-purple leaves unfurled.

I have them surrounded by concrete walkways due to reports of the plants being very invasive, but so far I've not had any volunteers sprouting.

The bulbils are quite tasty, I honey roast them like peanuts and the family really enjoys eating them.

Neutral daveman On Mar 18, 2012, daveman from Johnson City, TN wrote:

Seen these around forever, pretty invasive and the flowers smell just like big red chewing gum, very noticeable just passing by them.

Positive sharonf1 On Jul 1, 2009, sharonf1 from Lake in the Hills, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

Planted on the north side of the house close to the foundation (full shade). It dies back every year at frost and returns in the same spot. By the end of June it fills out a trellis nicely and provides a nice back drop for the rest of the garden. I grew this at my last house on the south side (partial sun due to wooded lot) and it behaved there as well. Living in an area where the growing time is so short is probably what makes this plant enjoyable for me instead of a nuisance.

Neutral frostweed On Dec 19, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Chinese Wild Yam, Cinnamon Vine Dioscorea oppositifolia is naturalized in Texas and other States and is considered an invasive plant in Texas.

Positive podster On Jul 2, 2006, podster from Deep East Texas, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This plant produces plenty of tubers to share. If some escape, the plantlets are easy to pull up and repot. Insignificant blooms are supposed to smell like cinnamon. Great in a window box or planter.

Neutral Terry On Nov 21, 2003, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Hortus Third indicates it is root-hardy to USDA Zone 5, and can persist for years.

Negative bovinekdg On Jun 28, 2003, bovinekdg wrote:

This plant is terribly invasive. Each litle "potato" grows. It covers and smothers everything. It is impossible to get rid of. It is a nightmare when it gets loose! I have it places I cannot figure out how I got it there. If you plant it watch it and don't put the potatoes where you don't want them!(I have had it for 30+ years and it has been here much longer than that.)

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

Plant produces small bulbs at the leaf axils in the fall and these are what are planted, they all grow. The first year the flowers did not form and growth was slow, after that, much faster growth and flowers.

I think this is a very attractive plant. The flowers have a strong cinnamon scent. The tubers will get huge, as they grow each year. The bulbs on the top part taste good, and are the size of peanuts, and the tuber is good to eat also, but it must be cooked.The root can be prepared for cooking by gently scraping the skin and bumps off with the edge of a sharp knife

The root and bulbs for planting should not freeze; plant after all danger of frost is past, and should be mulched. This plant can - and most likely will - be invasive.
2/8/04 I just dug up some of the root tubers,they are 2 years old and weigh approximately 1 lb,when I planted them last fall, as 1 year old tubers they averaged 3 oz. each.


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

Mesa, Arizona
Little Rock, Arkansas
Chester, Connecticut
Orange Springs, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Dundee, Illinois
Lake In The Hills, Illinois
Washington, Indiana
Brooksville, Kentucky
Canaan, Maine
Falmouth, Maine
Farmington, Maine
Warren, Michigan
Bucyrus, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
Glouster, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Roscoe, Pennsylvania
Pawleys Island, South Carolina
Johnson City, Tennessee
Lafayette, Tennessee
Mc Minnville, Tennessee
Westmoreland, Tennessee
De Leon, Texas
Roanoke, Virginia
Twin Lakes, Wisconsin

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