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Native Long Yam/Pencil Yam

BSA Plant Guide

Native Long Yam/Pencil Yam (Dioscorea transversa)

Family: Dioscoreaceae

Size: Climbing vine up to 8 metres depending on host vegetation

Description: Slender climbing vine with distinctive heart shaped leaves and 3 winged seed pods.

Habitat: Found in rainforests, moist open forests and coastal ranges.

Foliage: Alternate heart shaped (elongated) leaves, light to dark green which die back during winter.

Fruit/seeds: Each seed pod has three light green, flat papery wings that collectively hang in clusters, turning whitish brown in winter

Tuber: Edible, cylindrical and can grow deep into the soil (30cm), approx 10-12mm in diameter and 10cm long, follow the vine down into the ground and dig carefully around the tuber with a small digging stick. Tubers in the NT are much larger than the ones found in south eastern Australia

Distribution: Found from mid NSW, through QLD to the NT

Uses: Edible tuber (root vegetable) raw or cooked, high in carbohydrate. Bake in hot ashes for 4-5 mins (small pencil sized tubers). Large tubers such as the ones found in the NT can be baked in a ground oven.

D. Transversa showing elongated heart shaped leaf and mature winged seed pods
Leaves and green seed pods
Immature winged seed pods
Dioscorea transversa - NSW