A wild yam from Joel in SC

We have several of these plants growing on our property in upper Pickens County, SC.
They are in a mixed hardwood forest, 15-20 feet from a small spring, and are in moderate shade.
This photo was taken in April but the plants are still about the same size (10-12 inches tall) and I have not seen any flowers. The knife in the photo is 4 inches long.

Hi Joel,

Your plant is a young individual of Dioscorea quaternata, a relative of the true yam, Dioscorea, but it does not grow a large tuber. ‘quaternata’ means ‘in four parts’ because the young plants typically have 4 leaves before they grow into vines.  It is occasional in the upstate. It has been used medicinally:  http://www.localharvest.org/wild-yam-dioscorea-quaternata-C11912  and more can be found here: http://www.missouriplants.com/Greenopp/Dioscorea_quaternata_page.html


Dr. Steven R. Hill, Botanist, SCNPS, in the wilds of Walhalla…

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