Dioscorea strydomiana is a striking yam species from South Africa described recently by collaborating researchers in South Africa and at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London.
It is unusual because its stems do not climb and it has very large above-ground perennial tubers.
There are only 2 populations of about 200 individual plants known in the wild.
This species is regarded locally as a cancer cure, and is consequently under threat from over-collection by medicinal plant collectors who remove parts of the tubers.
Like almost all yams it is dioecious and has:
Dioscorea strydomiana was named after the late Gerhard Strydom, who, with Johan Hurter, played a significant role in the discovery of this species when he worked for the Mpumalanga Parks Board.
Dioscorea strydomiana is closely related to the elephant’s foot yam Dioscorea elephantipes (L’Hér.) Engl. and Dioscorea sylvatica Ecklon, also from South and southern Africa respectively.
Both species are cultivated by succulent plant enthusiasts for their large caudiciform tubers. They differ in both floral and vegetative morphology from Dioscorea strydomiana.
Adult plant of Dioscorea strydomiana showing the tuber and shoot habit, with a member of the conservation survey team, Linda Loffler.© John Burrows
Dioscorea strydomiana male flowers in axillary racemes and leaves, showing their shape and habit.© John Burrows
Dioscorea strydomiana female inflorescences and flowers.© John Burrows
Tuber of a young plant of Dioscorea strydomiana showing the structure of its outer layer.© John Burrows
Team leader, Lilioid and Alismatid Monocots
Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew and PI, eMonocot
"Dioscorea strydomiana is the most exciting, unusual and threatened new yam species to be discovered for many years."
You can read more about this species in the journal Kew Bulletin: A critically endangered new species of yam (Dioscorea strydomiana Wilkin, Dioscoreaceae) from Mpumalanga, South Africa.
A Natural Environment Research Council-funded initiative to create a global online resource for monocot plants.
A form of plant with a thickened base.
In plant populations, this refers to individual plants being either male or female.