Amorphophallus paeoniifolius

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Elephant foot yam
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Araceae
Subfamily: Aroideae
Tribe: Thomsonieae
Genus: Amorphophallus
Species: A. paeoniifolius
Binomial name
Amorphophallus paeoniifolius
(Dennst.) Nicolson, 1977[1]

Amorphophallus campanulatus (Roxb.) Blume ex Decne
Amorphophallus bangkokensis Gagnep.
Amorphophallus chatty Andrews
Amorphophallus decurrens (Blanco) Kunth.

Amorphophallus paeoniifolius, the elephant foot yam or whitespot giant arum[3][4] or stink lily, is a tropical tuber crop grown primarily in Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the tropical Pacific islands. Because of its production potential and popularity as a vegetable in various cuisines, it can be raised as a cash crop.


The plant gives off a putrid smell. The pistillate (female) and staminate (male) flowers are on the same plant and are crowded in cylindrical masses. The berries are red when ripe and are not quite round, being subglobose or oviod.[2]

Human relevance[edit]

As food[edit]

Elephant foot yam

Elephant foot yam is of Southeast Asian origin. It grows in its wild form in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian countries.

In India this species as a crop is grown mostly in Bihar, West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa. In India it is popularly known as "oal" (ol (ওল) in Bengali, suran or jimikand in Hindi, senai kizhangu in Tamil, suvarna gedde in Kannada, chena (ചേന) in Malayalam, oluo in Oriya,pulla ganda in Telugu and kaene in Tulu).

In Bihar its used in oal curry, oal bharta or chokha, pickles and chutney. Oal chutney is also called "barabar chutney" as it has mango, ginger and oal in equal quantities, hence the name barabar (meaning "in equal amount").

In West Bengal, these yams are eaten fried or in yam curry. The plant body of elephant foot yam is also eaten in West Bengal as a green vegetable called Bengali: ওল শাক "ol shaak".

In Tonga, where it is known as teve, it is viewed as the most inferior of all yam species, and is only eaten if nothing else is available.

As medicine[edit]

The Elephant-foot yam is widely used in Indian medicine, although the plant has no known medical effectiveness. It is recommended as a remedy in the Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani systems.[5] The corm is prescribed for bronchitis, asthma, abdominal pain, emesis, dysentery, enlargement of spleen, piles, elephantiasis, diseases due to vitiated blood, and rheumatic swellings.

Along with other therapeutic applications, The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India indicates the use of corm in prostatic hyperplasia. (The corm is irritant due to the presence of calcium oxalate. It can be consumed after it is washed well and boiled in tamarind water or butter milk.) The corm contains an active diastatic enzyme amylase, betulinic acid, tricontane, lupeol, stigmasterol, betasitosterol and its palmitate and glucose, galactose, rhamnose and xylose.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Nicolson, Dan Henry (1977). "Nomina conservanda proposita - Amorphophallus (Proposal to change the typification of 723 Amorphophallus, nom. cons. (Araceae))". Taxon 26: 337–338. 
  2. ^ a b Quattrocchi, Umberto (2012). CRC World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology, Volume 1 A–B. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press (Taylor & Francis). p. 253. ISBN 978-1-4398-9442-2. 
  3. ^ "Amorphophallus paeoniifolius". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "Amorphophallus paeoniifolius (Dennst.) Nicolson - whitespot giant arum". Natural Resources Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture. 
  5. ^ Khare, C. P. (2007). Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary. Berlin: Springer Verlag. ISBN 978-0-387-70637-5.