Elephant's Foot, Turtleback Plant

Dioscorea macrostachys

Family: Dioscoreaceae
Genus: Dioscorea (dy-oh-SKOR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: macrostachys (mak-ro-STAK-iss) (Info)
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Cactus and Succulents

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


under 6 in. (15 cm)

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


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:

Sun to Partial Shade


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Unknown - Tell us



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


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

Mesa, Arizona

Clayton, California

Fairfield, California

Fontana, California

Tarzana, California

Mesquite, New Mexico

Cincinnati, Ohio

San Antonio, Texas

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Nov 12, 2008, Gourd from Mesilla Park, NM wrote:

Last year in 2007, this bloomed and did not produce seeds. It could be there is no natural pollinator here or it needs two plants blooming at the same time. The flowers are so minute that I couldn't pollinate it even if I tried, you can barely see them.

This year, it is blooming again and it is still outside in mid-November. It will come into the house this week. I probably should have brought it in sooner but the leaves are still green on it and I was waiting for it to go dormant. So, I feel this is proof enough that it can survive cold fronts, we have had slight freezes in the last two weeks. This plant is located near a rockwall and that is what has been keeping it warm at night most likely.


On Aug 22, 2006, TxTurqoize from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

What an interesting plant! I ordered some seeds online about 5 years ago....and tried my hand at germinating them. This particular plant is the only one to survive...and its doing really well. They are slow growers..and are a bit delicate with their watering needs. Also, mine doesn't seem to be able to tolerate any fertilizers...and will actually drop some leaves if I feed it...


On Jan 12, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Nice looking plant basically exactly same cultivational requirements of similar D elephantipes. This plant has larger, heart-shaped leaves about 3-4" in diameter, while the other plant (D elephantipes) has smaller leaves, most less than 1" in diameter. This plant is often misidentified as the elephantipes one. I have had one outdoors in a zone b for 4 years without ill effect (in a pot).