I know, not a very good shot. These things are tall, though, so I choose to blame their verticality for the poor framing rather than my tepid photography skills.
Also known as Dioscorea batatas, the Chinese yam is usually grown for its edible root; however, they also grow small edible bulbils that are reportedly tasty.
I say “reportedly” because I haven’t eaten any yet. Last year was their first year on my homestead so I saved the few tiny bulbils they produced to use for planting purposes.
As for where the report on this plant’s usefulness and edibility originally comes from, I give credit to Eric Toensmeier.
His book Paradise Lot is a must-read for those interested in transforming small yards and marginal spaces into permaculture Edens. It’s also just a fun book with a lot more personal storytelling than most gardening works.
(Note: I previously reviewed Paradise Lot here.)
As for Chinese yams, this year they’re growing a LOT faster than they did last year, thanks to their larger root mass. Here’s what the leaves look like close-up:
With a proper trellis these would be a lovely and long-lived addition to a garden. They’d likely also do well climbing trees in a food forest.
I look forward to seeing the yield of this fall’s bulbil production.
Support this site: shop on Amazon using this link. It doesn’t cost you a penny and it helps pay for my hosting!
Where might one get some starter plants of these Chinese yams?
I should have some before too long. Otherwise, you can sometimes get bulbils on e-bay.
This is what popped up late this season from where I buried the Chinese Yam bulbils, does it look right to you.
Early days I know but the leaves do not look like yours. I submitted a pl@ntnet identification request and they came up with dioscorea bulbifera but I doubt that. Your thoughts please. Fred formerly of Florida now in England. 🙂
Dear Sir, are there male and female versions of this plant ? If so, how to differentiate them ? Thanks.
Not that I have heard.
Eng there are male and female. I just had a presentation on this plant from a commercial producer. The differences are subtle, but both are edible and since they propagate almost entirely through root and bulbil, it shouldn’t matter too much from what I understand
I just ordered Chineses yam D. batana. I have limited space. How can I enjoy this yam without it taking over? Did you have success growing it in a container?