Dioscorea cayennensis - Lam.
Common Name Yellow Yam, Yellow Guinea yam
Family Dioscoreaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Freshly cut tubers can cause skin irritation due to the presence of raphides, which are destroyed when the tubers are cooked[ 299 ].
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation, having arisen in cultivation.
Range Western Africa - possibly Dahomey.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Translate this page:

You can translate the content of this page by selecting a language in the select box.

Yellow Yam or Yellow Guinea Yam (Dioscorea cayenensis) is a spiny vine that can be 10 ? 12 m long. The leaves are pale green and heart shaped. It is a commercially cultivated for its roots that have a rough outer skin and pale yellow flesh. It is cooked and eaten as vegetable. It can also be dried and milled to produce flour. Leaves are made into tea.

Dioscorea cayennensis Yellow Yam, Yellow Guinea yam

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
Dioscorea cayennensis Yellow Yam, Yellow Guinea yam
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Dioscorea cayennensis is an evergreen Perennial Climber growing to 10 m (32ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. and are pollinated by Wind, Insects.The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Dioscorea colocasiifolia Dalz. Non Pax Dioscorea sativa Beatson.

Edible Uses
Root - cooked in various ways and eaten as a vegetable[ 300 , 301 ]. A palatable flavour with a dry, mealy flesh[ 301 ]. The roots are sometimes dried and milled to produce a flour for storing - this flour is then stirred into boiling water and kneaded to form a paste[ 299 ]. The roots have a rough outer skin and a pale yellow flesh[ 301 ].The roots are up to 3kg in weight[ 300 ]. The roots can contain up to 91% carbohydrate, the highest for any yam[ 332 ]. Protein content is low, about 2.5%[ 332 ]. A tea is made from the leaves[ 301 ].
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known


Other Uses
Other Uses: None known
Cultivation details
A plant of the moist, lowland tropics. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 32?c, but can tolerate 12 - 40?c[ 418 ]. Plants can be killed at temperatures of 9?c[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 1,900mm, but tolerates 900 - 3,000mm[ 418 ]. It prefers a dry season of 2 months or less[ 300 ]. Succeeds in full sun and in moderate shade[ 418 ]. For best yields, this species requires a deep, well-drained, sandy loam that is not liable to water-logging[ 300 ]. Succeeds in relatively light sandy soils[ 300 ], though the soil needs to be very fertile otherwise yields can be low[ 299 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 6.7, tolerating 5.3 - 8[ 418 ]. Daylengths of more than 12 hours are preferred during the early growing season since this encourages vegetative growth; daylengths of less than 12 hours towards the end of the growing season will encourage tuber formation and development[ 300 ]. Requiring a longer growing season than other yams, mature roots are formed in 9 - 12 months from planting[ 300 ]. The tuber has a very brief resting period and does not store well[ 332 ]. It is in fact best stored, if necessary, in the earth[ 332 ]. The tubers are formed near the surface of the soil[ 332 ] and can be carefully removed from the growing plant without disturbing it, allowing the plant to continue cropping for up to three years[ 300 ]. The tubers can be dug up as required and a common practice is to expose one side of the tuber and to cut away the distal part for consumption leaving the upper part to regenerate; hence the name 'cut-and-come-again'[ 332 ]. This practice may be repeated for upward of three years[ 332 ]. Yields of 30 tonnes per hectare have been obtained in the Caribbean[ 300 ]. There are some named varieties[ 300 ]. Although occasionally monoecious, the plant is usually dioecious, therefore both male and female forms need to be grown if seed is required[ 299 ].
Seed - rarely produced, they are not normally used to propagate this species. Cuttings of tubers. Small tubers can be cut into 2 - 4 sections, larger ones into 6 - 8 sections. Each section should have 2 - 3 dormant buds. The cut tuber is often left in the sun for several hours to promote wound healing and reduce the risk of fungal infection[ 300 ].
Other Names
aerial yam air potato air-potato ban tarul bengo nari bhyakur bitter yam brotwurzel buk bulb-bearing yam cheeky yam diha dukarkanda dukkarkanda genthi ghar tyaur githa heggenusu hisaki hoei-oepas hoi huang yao zi huángyàozi igname bulbifère inhame kamfo kanthamul kaya pendazam khashyo khe kisi kukur tarul kunta genusu ofika oviala papa voladora pas phor potatisjams potato yam pousse en l'air ratalu sakkisak tarul teme varahi varahi kand varahi kanda varahi (rhizome) varahika?da yamswurzel ñame de gunda
Found In
Africa, Antilles, Brazil, Central Africa, Central America, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, East Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guiana, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Madagascar, Mali, New Caledonia, Nigeria, Pacific, Panama, Puerto Rico, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South America, Suriname, Togo, Trinidad, Uganda, Vanuatu, Venezuela, West Africa, West Indies, Zambia,
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Dioscorea alataWater Yam, Purple yam, Greater yam, White yam41
Dioscorea batatasChinese Yam55
Dioscorea bulbiferaAerial Yam, Air Potato42
Dioscorea deltoideaYam22
Dioscorea esculentaLesser Yam, Potato Yam, Chinese Yam, Wild Yam40
Dioscorea japonicaGlutinous Yam, Japanese yam42
Dioscorea kamoonensis 21
Dioscorea tokoro 22
Dioscorea trifidaCush Cush Yam, Sweet yam40
Dioscorea villosaWild Yam24
Tamus communisBlack Bryony12
Test_20170320_2Aerial Yam, Air Potato42


Print Friendly and PDF
Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.
Readers comment
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.
Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Dioscorea cayennensis  

Plant Uses

Edible Uses
Medicinal Uses
Other Plant uses
Woodland Gardening
Why Perennial Plants?
Top Edible Plants
Top Medicinal Plants
Garden Design

Twiter      Facebook


Content Help
Support Us
Old Database Search
About Us
Sign In

Stay informed about PFAFs progress,
challenges and hopes by signing up for
our free email ePost. You will receive
a range of benefits including:
* Important announcements and news
* Exclusive content not on the website
* Updates on new information &
functionality of the website & database

We will not sell or share your email address.
You can unsubscribe at anytime.