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  • Dioscorea bulbifera foliage (Photo: James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org)
  • Dioscorea bulbifera habit (Photo: Forest & Kim Starr, United States Geological Survey, Bugwood.org)
  • Dioscorea bulbifera foliage (Photo: Amy Ferriter, South Florida Water Management District, Bugwood.org)
  • Dioscorea bulbifera bulbils (Photo: James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org)
  • Dioscorea bulbifera habit (Photo: Forest & Kim Starr, United States Geological Survey, Bugwood.org)
  • Dioscorea bulbifera infestation (Photo: USDA APHIS PPQ Archive, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org)
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Common name
Yamswurzel (German), pousse en l'air (French), papa voladora (Spanish), Brotwurzel (German), hoei-oepas (English, India), igname bulbifère (French), inhame (Portuguese, Brazil), hoi (Hawaiian, Hawaiian Islands), potato yam (English), yam (English), kaile (Fijian, Fiji Islands), belloi (Palauan, Palau Islands), air yam (English), hoi (Tongan, Tonga Islands), hoi (Niuean, Niue Island), cheeky yam (English), wild yam (English), magnaheugo (Chamorro, Guam Island), pureka (English, Namoluk -Nómwunuuk- Atoll), kaile manu (Fijian, Fiji Islands), kaile ndranu (Fijian, Fiji Islands), soi (Samoan, American Samoa Islands), mata (Marshallese, Marshall Islands), sarau (Fijian, Fiji Islands), yoi (Yapese, Yap (Waqab) Island), bitter yam (English), ellal (English, Kosrae Island), dau kwasi (English, Solomon Islands), dau fasia (English, Solomon Islands), hoi (English, Tahiti Island), rook (Yapese, Yap -Waqab- Island), ápwereka (English, Chuuk Islands), air-potato (English), puruka (English, Satawan Atoll), palai (English, Pohnpei Island), pwereka (English, Chuuk Islands), pwer (English, Satawan Atoll), aerial yam (English), 'oi (English, Cook Islands), ñame de gunda (Spanish), pwerh (English, Puluwat -Pwonowót- Atoll), pi'oi (Hawaiian, Kaua'i Island)
Synonym
Dioscorea hoffa , Cordem.
Dioscorea tamnifolia , Salisb.
Helmia bulbifera , (L.) Kunth
Dioscorea bulbifera , L. var. veraPrain & Burkill
Dioscorea crispata , Roxb.
Dioscorea dicranandra , Donn.Sm.
Dioscorea heterophylla , Roxb.
Dioscorea pulchella , Roxb.
Dioscorea tenuiflora , Schltdl.
Smilax decipiens , Spreng.
Similar species
Dioscorea alata, Dioscorea sansibarensis
Summary
Dioscorea bulbifera is a highly invasive plant and presents a management problem in many parts of the world. Despite some medicinal and agricultural uses, D. bulbifera is widely characterized as an organism that outcompetes and smothers native vegetation.
Species Description
Dioscorea bulbifera is a monocotyledonus, dioecious, herbaceous perennial vine. Its annual stems, which arise from tubers, twine counterclockwise (Schultz, 1992). Langeland (undated) writes that \"stems are round or slightly angled in cross section...[and] leaves are long petioled [with] blades to 8 in or more long.\" D. bulbifera has simple, alternate, obvate leaves, characterized by their distinct heart shape and veined pattern. Aerial tubers, or bulbils, arise from the axils of the plant and are usually smooth and subspherical. D. bulbifera is identifiable especially by its aggressively climbing, twining stems, which reaching lengths of 60 feet or more, and its \"large heart shaped leaves...and potato like aerial tubers from the leaf stems\" (Schultz, 1992).
Notes
In an analysis of 4 wild Nepalese yam species, including Dioscorea bulbifera, Bahndari and Kawabata (2004) found that constituent chemicals in the yams \"tend to imply that…wild yams may present a health hazard potential, which in turn demands propor processing before consumption to eliminate the effects of the antinutrients.\" Another study, by Beck et al (1984), evaluated traditional preparation methods of wild yams by Australian aboriginals. The process of baking, slicing, and leaching the yams overnight in running water removed the bitter compound diosbulbin D, making the yams palatable.
Plant microfossil analysis from the Me' Aure' Cave in Moindou, New Caldaonia, and the Yuku rock sheltor in Papua New Guinea suggests that D. bulbifera or a closely related precursor was present in these regions between 2700-18000 YBP (Horrockset al, 2007a;Horrockset al, 2007b).
Lifecycle Stages
Morisawa (1999) writes that tubers and bulbers of Dioscorea bulbifera usually sprout during spring, using dead vegetation from the previous years' growth to gain access to the canopy. Bulbils, which can lie dormant for up to a year, are produced in mid-summer and drop to the ground in the late summer/early fall (Schultz, 1992). Stems begin to die back in the early fall. Morisawa (1999) notes that \"raccoons, wild hogs and other animals do not seem to feed upon the bulbils,\" a factor which contributes to D. bulbifera's rampant growth.
Uses
Schultz (1992) notes that \"Dioscorea bulbifera is one of the most common and widespread food yams and can be found in every hot, humid tropical region of the world.\" D. bulbifera is high in diosgenin, and is collected in the wild for steroidal drug hormones. Chemicals derived from D. bulbifera are also used in contraceptive pills. (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1999).
Habitat Description
Dioscorea bulbiferademonstrates aggressive growth in a variety of mesic habitats, especially thickets, disturbed areas, fence rows, and hardwood hammocks. D. bulbifera does not inhabit coastal areas due to its salt intolerance, and it is rarely found in pinelands (Morisawa, 1999). In tropical hammocks, D. bulbifera's growth is most concentrated in canopy gaps (Shultz, 1992).
Reproduction
Dioscorea bulbifera is vegetatively propagated. By producing an abundance of bulbils (aerial tubers) in its leaf axils, D. bulbifera assures its continuation, especially since soil contact is not necessary for stem production (Morisawa, 1999).
Pathway

Principal source: Schultz, 1992;
Morisawa, 1999;
Horvitz and Koop, 2001.

Compiler: National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)

Review: Forest Starr and Kim Starr, Botanical Research Associates United States Geological Survey Biological Resources Division Makawao, Maui, Hawaii USA

Publication date: 2008-01-14

Recommended citation: Global Invasive Species Database (2016) Species profile: Dioscorea bulbifera. Downloaded from http://www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=1220 on 03-12-2016.

General Impacts
As an invasive plant, Dioscorea bulbifera has a variety of negative impacts. D. bulbifera interrupts natural ecosystem function by forming a mat of vines impenetrable by other plants or sunlight. D. bulbifera can smother both seedlings as well as full grown trees (Shultz, 1992) D. bulbifera also impacts wildlife species dependant on native vegetation. Economically, extra taxes and fees sometimes must be levied to help pay for control and eradication efforts. (Invasive.org, 2002).
Management Info
Management of Dioscorea bulbifera is generally labor intensive, expensive, and requires multiple visits to control sites. Horvitz and Koop (2001) participated in a study which investigated the relationship between native and non-native vine behaviour in the Miami-Dade area. Their intensive control program for D. bulbifera included: pruning native vines for better access to non-natives; cutting non-native vines; hand application of herbicide to non-native vines; hand pulling non-native seedlings/tubers; and positioning and pruning native species to facilitate growth and canopy access. Sites were revisited within 6 months for recutting, reapplication of herbicides, and \"hand removal of seedlings or other regenerative organs\" (Horvitz and Koop, 2001). Horvitz and Koop (2001) note that \"management significantly reduced seedling recruitment by non-native vines.\" Other researchers cite similar active management techniques for D. bulbifera, whose bulbils/tuber system is notoriously difficult to eradicate. Shultz (1992) notes the importance of disposing removed plant material in a secure location to avoid re-germination.

Preventative measures: D. bulbifera should not be recommended as an ornamental plant. It is classified as a Class A Noxious Weed in Alabama and as a noxious weed in Florida (NRCS, 2007).

Chemical: Morisawa (1999) writes that \"RoundUp, a nonselective herbicide, will kill the vines but the tuber will most likely resprout...Garlon 4 applied at a 10% concentration provides good control when applied with the basal application method. Completely encircle the lowest 30-61cm of the stem or trunk with the herbicide and form a band at least 15cm wide. Garlon 4 (10% concentration) and Garlon 3A (50% concentration) provide excellent control when applied to a cut surface.\" Wound vines with a hatchet and apply herbicide during the growing season (Morisawa, 1999).

Biological: An ongoing study by Sambura and Pemberton (ARS, 2007) seeks to identify natural insect herbivores of D. bulbifera in Nepal. So far the researchers' have identified a possible biological control agent in the Nepalese air potato beetle, Liliocerus spp.

Countries (or multi-country features) with distribution records for Dioscorea bulbifera
NATIVE RANGE
  • africa
  • asia
  • australia
  • bhutan
  • burkina faso
  • cambodia
  • cameroon
  • china
  • cote d'ivoire
  • ghana
  • guam
  • india
  • indonesia
  • lao people's democratic republic
  • liberia
  • madagascar
  • malaysia
  • marshall islands
  • mauritius
  • micronesia, federated states of
  • myanmar
  • nepal
  • new caledonia
  • nigeria
  • northern mariana islands
  • palau
  • papua new guinea
  • philippines
  • reunion
  • saint helena
  • senegal
  • sierra leone
  • solomon islands
  • sri lanka
  • tanzania, united republic of
  • thailand
  • uganda
  • viet nam
Informations on Dioscorea bulbifera has been recorded for the following locations. Click on the name for additional informations.
Lorem Ipsum
Location Status Invasiveness Occurrence Source
Details of Dioscorea bulbifera in information
Status
Invasiveness
Arrival date
Occurrence
Source
Introduction
Species notes for this location
Location note
Management notes for this location
Impact
Mechanism:
Outcome:
Ecosystem services:
Impact information
As an invasive plant, Dioscorea bulbifera has a variety of negative impacts. D. bulbifera interrupts natural ecosystem function by forming a mat of vines impenetrable by other plants or sunlight. D. bulbifera can smother both seedlings as well as full grown trees (Shultz, 1992) D. bulbifera also impacts wildlife species dependant on native vegetation. Economically, extra taxes and fees sometimes must be levied to help pay for control and eradication efforts. (Invasive.org, 2002).
Red List assessed species 0:
Management information
Management of Dioscorea bulbifera is generally labor intensive, expensive, and requires multiple visits to control sites. Horvitz and Koop (2001) participated in a study which investigated the relationship between native and non-native vine behaviour in the Miami-Dade area. Their intensive control program for D. bulbifera included: pruning native vines for better access to non-natives; cutting non-native vines; hand application of herbicide to non-native vines; hand pulling non-native seedlings/tubers; and positioning and pruning native species to facilitate growth and canopy access. Sites were revisited within 6 months for recutting, reapplication of herbicides, and \"hand removal of seedlings or other regenerative organs\" (Horvitz and Koop, 2001). Horvitz and Koop (2001) note that \"management significantly reduced seedling recruitment by non-native vines.\" Other researchers cite similar active management techniques for D. bulbifera, whose bulbils/tuber system is notoriously difficult to eradicate. Shultz (1992) notes the importance of disposing removed plant material in a secure location to avoid re-germination.

Preventative measures: D. bulbifera should not be recommended as an ornamental plant. It is classified as a Class A Noxious Weed in Alabama and as a noxious weed in Florida (NRCS, 2007).

Chemical: Morisawa (1999) writes that \"RoundUp, a nonselective herbicide, will kill the vines but the tuber will most likely resprout...Garlon 4 applied at a 10% concentration provides good control when applied with the basal application method. Completely encircle the lowest 30-61cm of the stem or trunk with the herbicide and form a band at least 15cm wide. Garlon 4 (10% concentration) and Garlon 3A (50% concentration) provide excellent control when applied to a cut surface.\" Wound vines with a hatchet and apply herbicide during the growing season (Morisawa, 1999).

Biological: An ongoing study by Sambura and Pemberton (ARS, 2007) seeks to identify natural insect herbivores of D. bulbifera in Nepal. So far the researchers' have identified a possible biological control agent in the Nepalese air potato beetle, Liliocerus spp.

Locations
UNITED STATES
Management Category
Prevention
Eradication
Bibliography
18 references found for Dioscorea bulbifera

Managment information
Agriculture Research Service (ARS) 2007. Online database. Dioscorea bulbifera
Summary: This source provides information on possible biological control agents for D. bulbifera.
Available from: http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/projects/projects.htm?accn_no=407144 [Accessed 16 May 2007]
Horvitz, C. and Koop, A., 2001. Removal of Nonnative Vines and Post-Hurricane Recruitment in Tropical Hardwood Forests of Florida. Biotropica.
Summary: This article details a exhaustive management scheme for removal of non-native vines in Florida. It encompasses mechanical and chemical control methods.
Available from: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1744-7429.2001.tb00178.x?prevSearch=allfield%3A%28dioscorea+bulbifera%29 [Accessed 16 May 2007]
Invasive.org (Invasive and Exotic Species). Online database Dioscorea bulbifera
Summary: Provides detailed list of impacts of invasive species, including D. bulbifera. Also provides identification clues and a summary of management techniques.
Available from: http://www.invasive.org/library/FLFSNoxWeeds/airpotato.html [Accessed 15 May 2007].
ISB (Institute for Systematic Botany). 2007. Online database. Dioscorea bulbifera
Summary: This website provides a basic physical description and management techniques as well as an exhaustive list of alternate taxonomic and common names.
Available from: http://www.plantatlas.usf.edu/synonyms.asp?plantID=1726 [Accessed 16 May 2007]
Langeland, K., Undated. Natural Area Weeds: Air Potato (Dioscorea bulbifera). UF/IFAS.
Summary: Detailed account of species physical appearance and habits in Florida habitats. Provides some management information and Florida distribution.
Available from: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/AG112 [Accessed 15 May 2007]
Space, J., Flynn, T. 2000. Report to the Government of Niue on Invasive Plant Species of Environmental Concern. USDA, Pacific Southwest Research Station.
Summary: This paper provides management information for Pacific Island locations as well as distribution information.
Available from: http://www.hear.org/alienspeciesinhawaii/articles/pier/pier_niue_report.pdf [Accessed on 16 May 2007].
General information
Bhandari M.R. Kawabata J., 2004. Assessment of antinutritional factors and bioavailability of calcium and zinc in wild yam (Dioscorea spp.) tubers of Nepal. Food Chemistry. 2004.
Summary: This article provides information on possible toxins present in D. bulbifera .
Coursey, D. G. ; J. Alexander, and Stephen L. Wiesenfeld African Agricultural Patterns and the Sickle Cell. Science 28 June 1968: Vol. 160. no. 3835, pp. 1474 - 1475
Summary: This article provides information pertaining to the native distribution of D. bulbifera.
Horrocks, M; J. Grant-Mackie and E, Matisoo-Smith, 2007. Introduced taro (Colocasia esculenta) and yams (Dioscorea spp.) in Podtanean (2700�1800 years BP) deposits from M� Aur� Cave (WMD007), Moindou, New Caledonia Journal of Archaeological Science. 2007.
Summary: This article presents a plant microfossil analysis of remnants found in the Me Aure Cave.
Horrocks, M.; S. Bulmer and R.O. Gardner., 2008. Plant microfossils in prehistoric archaeological deposits from Yuku rock shelter, Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea. Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 35, Issue 2, February 2008, Pages 290-301
Summary: This article presents a plant microfossil analysis of remnants found in the Yuku rock shelter
ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System), 2005. Online Database Diocorea bulbifera
Summary: Detailed taxonomic information and useful links to other sites. An online database that provides taxonomic information, common names, synonyms and geographical jurisdiction of a species. In addition links are provided to retrieve biological records and collection information from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Data Portal and bioscience articles from BioOne journals.
Available from: http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=43369 [Accessed 15 May 2007]
Morisawa, TunyaLee. Weed Notes: Dioscorea bulbifera, D. alata, D. sansibarensis. The Nature Conservancy. September 1999.
Summary: Detailed physical description of Dioscorea bulbifera and two closely related species, D. alata and D. sansibarensis. Also provides management information and impacts.
Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) 2007. Online database. Dioscorea bulbifera
Summary: This database provides information about the species including distribution, noxious weed classifications, taxonomy, as well as links to related sites.
Available from: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=DIBU [Accessed 16 May 2007]
PIER (Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk). 2007. Dioscorea bulbifera
Summary: This site provides extensive information about D. bulbifera s habitat, ecology, distribution, and common names.
Available from: http://www.hear.org/pier/species/dioscorea_bulbifera.htm [Accessed 16 May 2007]
Schultz, Gary. Elemenet Stewardship Abstract for Dioscorea bulbifera The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia. 1992.
Summary: Detailed account of species physical appearance and habits. Also contains detailed management information for North America.
Available from: http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/esadocs/documnts/diosbul.pdf [Accessed 15 May 2007]
University of Wisconsin-Madison Botany Green House. Online database. Dioscorea bulbifera
Summary: Provides a brief description of D. bulbifera as well as medicinal uses of the plant.
Available from: http://www.botany.wisc.edu/greenhouse/Roomthree-Di.html [Accessed 16 May 2007]
USDA, ARS, 2007. Dioscorea bulbifera National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland
Summary: Information for species including common names, distribution, uses.
Available from: http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?14186 [Accessed 15 May 2007]
Webster, Judy; Wendy Beck, and Bela Ternai, 1984. Toxicity and bitterness in Australian Dioscorea bulbifera L. and Dioscorea hispida Dennst. from Thailand. J. Agric. Food Chem.; 1984; 32(5) pp 1087 - 1090;
Summary: This article examines the preparation techniques used by Australian aboriginals to ready D. bulbifera for consumption.
Contact
The following 0 contacts offer information an advice on Dioscorea bulbifera