Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Dioscorea bulbifera L. var. bulbifera

Slender Vine
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© Barry Jago
Male flower. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Male flowers. © CSIRO

Prain, D. & Burkill, I.H. (1914) Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal n. ser. 10 : 26.

Common name

Aerial Jam; Jam, Aerial; Air Potatoe; Yam, Round; Potatoe, Air; Round Yam; Cheeky Yam; Yam, Cheeky


A slender vine not exceeding a stem diameter of 2 cm.


Leaf blades about 5-22 x 3.8-22 cm. Petioles about 2-12 cm long, thickened, twisted and curved near the base. About 5-7 veins, including the midrib, radiate from the base of the leaf blade. Bulbils about 0.8-1.5 cm diam., often produced on the leafy branches.


Inflorescence up to 37 cm long. Male flowers: Flowers small, about 3-4 mm diam., each flower subtended by 2 green leafy bracts, one about 2 mm long, the other narrower and 1 mm long. Sepals about 3 mm long. Petals about 3 mm long. Stamens 6, anthers white. Female flowers: Flowers about 4 mm long. Staminodes 6. Stigma 3-lobed.


Capsules 3-winged, about 22-24 x 10-12 mm, each wing containing 2 winged seeds. Seed + wing about 10-15 x 5 mm. Embryo about 1 mm long, located near the end of the seed.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in WA, NT, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and south to south eastern Queensland. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 800 m. Grows in open forest, wet sclerophyll forests, vine thicket and rain forest. Also found in Africa, Asia, Malesia and the Pacific islands.

Natural History & Notes

This species may be poisonous. Austin, D. F. (1998). Poisonous Plants of Southern Florida.

This species may have medicinal properties as well as being poisonous.

The leaves and stem of this species are regarded as a contraceptive. Cribb (1981).

Dioscorea bulbifera L., Species Plantarum 2: 1033(1753), Type: Habitat in Indiis. Dioscorea sativa var. rotunda F.M.Bailey, The Queensland Flora 5: 1615(1902), Type: Wokai, Cooktown, Roth. Dioscorea sativa L., Species Plantarum 2: 1033(1753), Type: Habitat in Indiis.
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