White Yam, Winged Yam

Dioscorea alata

Family: Dioscoreaceae
Genus: Dioscorea (dy-oh-SKOR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: alata (a-LAY-tuh) (Info)
Synonym:Dioscorea rubella




Vines and Climbers

Water Requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade





Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


30-40 ft. (9-12 m)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:


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)

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Birmingham, Alabama

Alachua, Florida

Milton, Florida

Orange Springs, Florida

Gardeners' Notes:


On Nov 4, 2019, Smilax from Milton, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant is like a perennial potato wherever the ground doesnt freeze, delicious!

Be sure to mulch the base of the plant in zone 8.


On Sep 4, 2016, Ted_B from Birmingham, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

The rate at which a sprouting air bulbil creates a new vine is astonishing. Be sure to give it something to climb, which it will engulf in short order. It quickly becomes clear how this species becomes invasive in warm climates.

This yam should not be cultivated in areas where it is deemed a nuisance, except perhaps in a setting whereby both the tuber and bulbils are completely contained. Even in mild temperate areas, vigorous tropical yams such as this one are perhaps best cultivated in suitably large containers, as any piece of viable root that survives winter will almost certainly launch a new vine the following spring.


On Mar 3, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

BONAP shows this has naturalized in Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia, as well as Florida, where it's a listed invasive species.

Also called purple yam--the tubers have deep purple flesh.


On Mar 9, 2007, Campfiredan from Alachua, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Tastes great. Grows wild in North Florida (too wild for some, it is considered invasive here). I just dig up the large tubers from where it grows wild and peel, cube, and boil them like monster potatoes. Mashed with butter they taste exactly like the real thing. Eat the invaders! Can be quite difficult to dig if it is growing in tree roots - look for it growing on the side of a ditch where it is likely to be more shallowly rooted.

Don't get it confused with D. bulbifera (aka "Air Potato") which grows in the same wild habitats. That one is quite bitter and the bitterness is so hard to remove it isn't worth the work. The edible D. alata has dark brown banana-shaped aerial bulbils (when it has them) while the inedible D. bulbifera has tan round ones that look like po... read more


On May 18, 2005, jnana from South Florida, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

Winged Yam is considered a highly invasive plant by the FEPPC. It is listed as a Category I of most invasive plants in Florida.


On Aug 18, 2003, xyris from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Very invasive in central Florida. I have dug hundreds of pounds of tubers out from an area that was full of it where I was expanding my garden. The tubers still would sprout after six months of being held on wooden racks above ground level. They couldn't be put in compost as they would have taken that over as well. Finally, it seems I have it under control after three years of working at it. In my area, it can grow over 50 feet in a season, maybe more. I don't recommend it for anywhere south of latitude 29 degrees.


On Oct 7, 2002, Michaelp from Piney Flats, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

This Plant forms bulbs at the leaf stem base for reproduction/these bulbs will all grow, almost 100% [it produces no viable seed here] /the first year the plant is slow growing .The root must not freeze,so must be mulched to protect it in freezing weather.The tubers can get huge some over 30 lb,as they will get bigger each year .Provide suport for it to climb on.The tubers are very good to eat.They must be cooked to destroy toxins.More food value than potatoes.Also verry filling.
feb/8/04-I just dug up some of the root tubers,
the first year tubers of this species averaged 3lbs.I only dug up one of the 2nd year root tubers and that took me a 1/2 hour the tuber weighed 23 lbs-I have never seen this rapid rate of growth in any species.
Feb/14 /04-I cann... read more