Dioscorea alata L. – D. alata can be mistaken for D.bulbifera, one of the main differences between the 2 is that in the former the “stem climbs to the right” [in a clockwise direction], whereas in the latter, the “stem climbs to the left” [in an anti-clockwise direction]. Also seen are the characteristic 4 – winged / 4 – angled stems, often with ‘bulb-like’ tubers.


Dioscorea belophylla (Prain) Voigt ex Haines (Indian Subcontinent: Assam, Bangladesh, East Himalaya, India, Nepal, West Himalaya as per POWO)




Dioscorea laurifolia Wall. ex Hook.f. (Peninsula Thailand to Malaya, Borneo: Borneo, Malaya, Thailand, Vietnam as per POWO, Assam as per publication)


Dioscorea melanophyma Prain & Burkill

Dioscorea pentaphylla L.


Dioscorea pubera Blume (Central Himalaya to W. Malesia: Assam, Bangladesh, East Himalaya, India, Jawa, Myanmar, Nepal, Sumatera as per POWO)


Images by Mihir Chaudhari

Dioscorea wattii Prain & Burkill (E. Himalaya to Bangladesh: Assam, Bangladesh, East Himalaya as per POWO)

Florae Indicae Enumeratio: Monocotyledonae, written by S.Karthikeyan, S.K.Jain, M.P.Nayar & M.Sanjappa, and published by Botanical Survey of India is an important reference for names and distribution of Dioscoreaceae species in India.
As per this document (Karthikeyan et al. 1989) following species of Dioscorea occur in India:
  1. Dioscorea alata L.
  2. D. arachidna Prain & Burkill
  3. D. bellophylla (Prain) Voigt & Haines
  4. D. bulbifera L.
  5. D. cumingii Prain & Burkill
  6. D. decipiens Hook.f.
  7. D. deltoidea Wall. ex Griseb.
  8. D. esculenta (Lour.) Burkill
  9. D. glabra Roxb.
  10. D. hamiltonii Hook.f.
  11. D. hispida Dennst. 
  12. D. intermedia Thwaites.
  13. D. japonica Thunb.
  14. D. kalkapershadii Prain & Burkill
  15. D. kamoonensis Kunth 
  16. D. lepcharum Prain & Burkill
  17. D. listeri Prain & Burkill
  18. D. melanophyma Prain & Burkill
  19. D. nummularia Lam.
  20. D. oppositifolia L.
  21. D. pentaphylla L. 
  22. D. prazeri Prain & Burkill
  23. D. pubera Blume
  24. D. pyrifolia Kunth 
  25. D. rogerrsei Prain & Burkill [synonym of D. bulbifera L]
  26. D. scortechinii Prain & Burkill
  27. D. spicata Roth
  28. D. tomentosa J. Koenig. ex Spreng
  29. D. trinervia Roxb. ex Prain & Burkill
  30. D. vexans Prain & Burkill
  31. D. wallichii Hook.f. 
  32. D. wattii Prain & Burkill
  33. D. wightii Prain & Burkill 
Scrutiny of these names in The Plant List indicate one name as synonym.
In addition to these species following are also reported from India by Saikia et al. 2011 (sp. no-34, 36, 37, 38, 39), Goswami et al. 2013 ( sp. no-34 ) and Flora of China (sp. no-35 ).
34. D. brandisii Prain & Burkill
35. D. colletii Hook.f.
36. D. daunea Prain & Burkill
37. D. laurifolia Wallich ex Hook.f.
38. D. orbiculata Hook.f.
39. D. polystachya Turcz. 

Abstract :
Dioscorea is monocotyledonous tuber crop of the family Dioscoreaceae and is reported to be an old crop species native to South East Asia. Its tubers have high nutritional value and were probably the main source of sustenance for the tribal people of Arunachal Pradesh. From the survey it has been found that the rural people of this region directly collect tubers from the wilderness resulting in rapid depletion of the different species of the important genus. Through this paper we are trying to highlight the taxonomic status, ecology and distribution of collected species. Using geographical information system technology, we created a map of different sites which indicated the elevation wise distribution of different species.
Species detailed:

The genus Dioscorea Linnaeus [Dioscoreaceae] in Assam, India by Nijara Goswami, S. K. Borthakur and D. K. Hore- Pleione 7(1): 73 – 83. 2013. ISSN: 0973-9467 © East Himalayan Society for Spermatophyte Taxonomy Abstract: There are about 600 species in the genus Dioscorea Linnaeus (Dioscoreaceae), distributed mainly in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. The tubers, yams, constitute an important source of food in many tropical areas. These are rich sources of carbohydrate and essential dietary nutrients and thereby considered as an important crop of subsistence agriculture especially in tribal areas of north-eastern region of India. During last few decades the genus becomes one of the most important plants as source of diosgenin, a plant sapogenin, used for the synthesis of steroidal drugs. The present study provided baseline data on distribution of different species of Dioscorea in Assam which may help in finding out the species / varieties or races for agricultural planning and other related activities in the state.


Binomial Habit Notes Ref. Distrib.
Climber Plains to Low
Altitude, also Cultivated
Flora of Tamil
Nadu, VOL. III, 1989
All districts
Dioscorea belophylla Voigt. Twiner Eastern
Ghats, Moist Deciduous Forests
Vijaya Sankar, 2007
Tiruvanna malai  
Dioscorea bulbifera L.  Climber Plains
to Mid Altitude, Cultivated 
of Tamil Nadu, VOL. III, 1989
Dioscorea esculenta (Lour.) Burkill Climber Plains,
of Tamil Nadu, VOL. III, 1989
Kanniya kumari,
Tirunelveli, Viluppuram
Dioscorea hamiltonii Hook. Climber Western
Ghats, Moist Deciduous to Evergreen Forests
of Tamil Nadu, VOL. III, 1989
Dioscorea hispida Dennst. Climber Western
Ghats, Dry Deciduous Forests
of Tamil Nadu, VOL. III, 1989
Dindigul, Nilgiri
Dioscorea kalkapershadii Prain & Burkill Climber Eastern
Ghats, Dry Deciduous Forests
of Tamil Nadu, VOL. III, 1989
Dioscorea oppositifolia L. var. dukhumensis Prain & Burkill is a synonym of Dioscorea oppositifolia L. Climber Western
Ghats & Eastern Ghats, Dry Deciduous Forests
of Tamil Nadu, VOL. III, 1989
Dioscorea oppositifolia L. var. oppositifolia Climber Dry
Evergreen to Dry Deciduous Forests
of Tamil Nadu, VOL. III, 1989
Dioscorea pentaphylla L.  Climber Dry
Evergreen to Moist Deciduous Forests
of Tamil Nadu, VOL. III, 1989
Dioscorea spicata Roth Climber Western
Ghats, Evergreen Forests
of Tamil Nadu, VOL. III, 1989
Dioscorea tomentosa Koen ex Spreng Climber Western
Ghats & Eastern Ghats, Dry Deciduous Forests
of Tamil Nadu, VOL. III, 1989
Dindigul, Namakkal, Salem, Tiruvanna malai
Dioscorea wallichii Hook Climber Western
Ghats, Evergreen Forests
of Tamil Nadu, VOL. III, 1989
Dioscorea wightii Hook Climber Western
Ghats, Evergreen Forests
of Tamil Nadu, VOL. III, 1989
Dioscorea hirsuta DENNST. (? Dioscorea hirsuta Blume is a synonym of Dioscorea hispida)

Botanical name Synonyms Family Common name
Dioscorea belophylla Dioscorea glabra Dioscoreaceae Spear-Leaved Yam
Dioscorea bulbifera Dioscoreaceae Air Yam
Dioscorea deltoidea Tamus nepalensis, Dioscorea nepalensis Dioscoreaceae Nepal Yam
Dioscorea kamoonensis Dioscorea subfusca Dioscoreaceae Kumaon Yam
Dioscorea oppositifolia Dioscorea opposita Dioscoreaceae Cinnamon Vine
Dioscorea pentaphylla Dioscorea triphylla Dioscoreaceae Five Leaf Yam
Dioscorea villosa Dioscorea glauca, Dioscorea hirticaulis, Dioscorea quaternata Dioscoreaceae Wild Yam


Dioscorea anguina is a synonym of Dioscorea pubera Blume
Dioscorea daemona  is a synonym of Dioscorea hispida,


Medicinal Plants in Andhra Pradesh, India By T. Pullaiah (2002)- details-
Flora of Medak District, Andhra Pradesh, India By T. Pullaiah, Chintala Prabhakar, B. Ravi Prasad Rao (1998)- Details with keys
Flora of Davanagere District, Karnataka, India By B. K. Manjunatha, V. Krishna, T. Pullaiah (2004- Description & illustrations of

Guide to Cultivated Plants By A. T. G. Elzebroek (2008) – Details-

Antidiabetic Plants in India and Herbal Based Antidiabetic Research By T. Pullaiah, K. Chandrasekhar Naidu(2003) – Details-
Dioscorea alata
Dioscorea bulbifera ………..


Dioscorea : 5 posts by 2 authors.

I have updated eFI (efloraofindia) page on Dioscorea

Attempts have been made to incorporate most of the species available in India & nearby areas with details & keys directly or through links as far as possible. It’s quite possible that there may be some discrepancy in the accepted names & synonyms taken from other links.

Species discussed so far in efloraofindia are given at the bottom of the page in the form of links against Subpages. On clicking them one can see all the details.

If someone can provide complete list of Indian species with source references it will be wonderful.

Any comments/ corrections are welcome.

I have added the list of Dioscorea species in India based on Karthikeyan et al. 1989.

Thanks, …,

Species mentioned in other litrature seems to match with your list. 
However, a few others mentioned as below, in some other sources may be coultivated:

My Institute worked on Dioscorea floribunda and two varieties were released FbC-1 and Arka Upkar which was taken up by pharmma Industries like Wyeth for tuber-Diosgenin-16 DPA-Steroid prosduction. All are now part of History.

Yes … All three species mentioned by you seems New World species and may be found cultivated in India.


Anatomy of Dioscorea : 1 post by 1 author.
Our paper on the anatomy of Dioscoreas has now been published (online first).
Please check this link: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11418-014-0849-5

Application of anatomy and HPTLC in characterizing by V Raman – ‎2014
Application of anatomy and HPTLC in characterizing species of Dioscorea (Dioscoreaceae) by Raman V, Galal AM, Avula B, Sagi S, Smillie TJ, Khan IA


Paper published… : 12 posts by 9 authors.
Our paper on calcium oxalate crystals in Dioscorea has just been published.
Please check this link: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10265-014-0654-y

Good article. Calcium oxalate are important in pharmacognosy.

Congratulation … You have discovered new types of xtalls. Significant contribution to the science.

New and unusual forms of calcium oxalate raphide crystals in the plant kingdom by Vijayasankar Raman, Harry T. Horner, Ikhlas A. Khan- Journal of Plant Research August 2014-
Abstract– Calcium oxalate crystals in higher plants occur in five major forms namely raphides, styloids, prisms, druses and crystal sand. The form, shape and occurrence of calcium oxalate crystals in plants are species- and tissue-specific, hence the presence or absence of a particular type of crystal can be used as a taxonomic character. So far, four different types of needle-like raphide crystals have been reported in plants. The present work describes two new and unusual forms of raphide crystals from the tubers of Dioscorea polystachya—six-sided needles with pointed ends (Type V) and four-sided needles with beveled ends (Type VI). Both of these new types of needles are distinct from the other four types by each having a surrounding membrane that envelopes a bundle of 10–20 closely packed thin crystalline sheets. The previously known four types of needles have solid or homogenous crystalline material, surrounded by a membrane or lamellate sheath called a crystal chamber. Only the Type VI crystals have beveled ends and the needles of the other five types have pointed ends

Pl. go through Dioscorea page with images of species (mostly done by Rawat ji) in efloraofindia.

If you find any mis-identification, pl. let us know.

If anybody can send images of other species of this genera (for incorporation in the website), it will be really nice. Also, if anybody is interested to take up the activity of inserting images on efloraofindia pages from efloraofindia posts, pl. let me know.

well. looks good