Wild Yam

Dioscorea villosa


Other Name:
Wild Sweet Potato

Wild Yam is a common native climbing vine that grows in most of Virginia. It can thrive in many types of habitats, including degraded ones. The scientific species name of villosa means "hairy", because the underside of the heart-shaped leaves are hairy. Many vegetables labeled as "yams" in supermarkets are actually sweet potatoes, even though the two are not closely related. Likewise, sweet potatoes are not closely related to white potatoes. Wild Yam does not produce edible tubers, but it has been widely used in traditional medicines for a variety of ailments.

Identification Tools

Illinois Wildflowers Friends of the Wildflower Garden Go Botany


North America Virginia

Wild Yam leaves
Two new wild yam plants, recently emerged from the soil

Wild Yam leaves
Another new Wild Yam. The number of leaves in the leaf rings varies.

Wild Yam leaves
A slightly older Wild Yam, showing growth form.

Wild Yam leaves
A laeger Wild Yam, showing a variation in leaf form.

Wild Yam leaves
A closer view of the leaves in the previous photo.

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