Intoxicating Yam
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Intoxicating Yam
P Native Photo: Prashant Awale
Common name: Intoxicating Yam, Asiatic Bitter Yam • Malayalam: Podava Kelengu • Marathi: Baichandi, Bhul Kand, Dukar Kand • Sanskrit: Hastyaluka • Tamil: Kavalakodi, Pei Perendai, Periperendai • Telugu: Chanda gadda, Puli dumpa, Tellaagini geddalu, Thella chanda gadda, Thella gadda • Mizo: Liliam, Niliam
Botanical name: Dioscorea hispida    Family: Dioscoreaceae (Yam family)
Synonyms: Dioscorea hirsuta, Dioscorea daemona, Dioscorea lunata

Intoxicating Yam is a twining vine, arising from tuberous roots, and reaching a length of several meters. Flowers are borne in panicles up to 45 cm long, in leaf-axils. Racemes are fascicled, shortly stalked, up to 1 cm long. Male flowers arise in dense clusters; perianth about 1 mm, outer lobes smaller and thinner than inner ones; stamens 6. Female spike solitary, up to 40 cm. Stems are twining to the left, hairless. Leaves are alternate, 3-foliolate, leaf-stalk up to 12-30 cm. Leaflets are nearly equal, ip to 17 x 12 cm, obovate, abruptly sharply tapering at tip, wedge-shaped to the base, shortly stalked, ribs 5, prominent intercostae coarsely netveined, thinly bristly; lateral leaflets gibbous at base.Capsule long ellipsoid, 3.5--7 cm, leathery, densely velvet-hairy; wings 1.2--1.5 cm wide. Juice of underground stems reported to possess narcotic properties. In Kerala, India, tuberous herb cooked with salt, chili, tamarind and tumeric powder and used as curry. Intoxicating Yam is found in the Himalayas, from Nepal to Sikkim, at altitudes up to 1500 m, and also in the tropics of Asia from South India to Taiwan, Philippines, New Guinea. Flowering: April-May.
Medicinal uses: In Bangladesh, tubers used to kill worms in wounds. Various plant parts used in whitlow, sores, boils, and bites of rabbit, jackal or dog. In India, tubers used for birth control. In Malaysia, pounded leaves applied to sores of yaw.

Identification credit: Shrikant Ingalhalikar, Prashant Awale Photographed near Mumbai, Maharashtra.

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