Dioscorea villosa wild yam; colic root Dioscoreaceae DIVI; Bx, pb, vc; Q, cu; R, h, gb, gr, lp, ro, sv, t;

Dioscorea villosa.Elaine Haug @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

Dioscorea villosa.Elaine Haug @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database. (Accessed 5/2014)

Dioscorea villosa is a dioecious perennial monocotyledon vine, colonial from slender rhizomes, stem slender, twining counterclockwise to 5 m long. 

Leaves alternate, (the lowermost sometimes whorled), stalk 2-7 cm long, blade heart-shaped, 5-10 cm long, tip long-pointed, base lobed, dull green above, often hairy below, major veins 7-11, palmate, secondary veins netted, finely hairy on veins below, margin entire. 

Flowers green, radially symmetrical, very small, petals and sepals the same, 3 each, male and female flowers on separate plants; male inflorescence branched, 1-4 flowers at each node, female inflorescence a spike 5-10 cm long, flowers solitary at nodes of spike; blooming June-July. 


Dioscorea villosa fruit capsules.Mary Anne Borge.The Natural Web.the-natural-web.org

Fruit dry, papery, 1.6-2.6 cm, 3-winged, tan, persistent into winter; seeds winged. 

Wetland status: FAC+. 

Frequency in NYC: Infrequent. 

Origin: Native. 

Habitat: Understory of moist or swamp forests, and edges, twining in low vegetation.