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 ovoid.[2]


As food[edit]

Elephant foot yam

Elephant foot yam is of Southeast Asian origin. It grows in its wild form in India, 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. It is popularly known as "oal" (ol (ওল) in Bengali, suran or jimikand in Hindi, Karunai kizhangu in Tamil, suvarna gedde (ಸುವರ್ಣ ಗೆಡ್ಡೆ) in Kannada, chena (ചേന) in Malayalam, oluo in Oriya, kanda gadda in Telugu and kaene in Tulu).

In Bihar it is used in oal curry, oal bharta or chokha, pickles and chutney.[5] 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 Cambodia, it is known as toal thom (ទាល់ធំ).[6]

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 and is recommended as a remedy in all three of the major Indian medicinal systems: Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani.[7] The corm is prescribed for bronchitis, asthma, abdominal pain, emesis, dysentery, enlargement of spleen, piles, elephantiasis, diseases due to vitiated blood, and rheumatic swellings. Pharmacological studies have shown a variety of effects,[8] specifically antiprotease activity, analgesic activity, and cytotoxic activity.[9] In addition it has been found to be a potentiator for further reducing bacteria activity when used with antibiotics.[10]

Along with other therapeutic applications, the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India indicates the use of corm[11] in prostatic hyperplasia. 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. doi:10.2307/1220579. 
  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. ^ Nedunchezhiyan, M.; Misra, R. S. (2008). "Amorphophallus tubers invaded by Cynodon dactylon". Aroideana. International Aroid Society. 31 (1): 129–133. 
  6. ^ Mathieu LETI, HUL Sovanmoly, Jean-Gabriel FOUCHÉ, CHENG Sun Kaing & Bruno DAVID, Flore photographique du Cambodge, Toulouse, Éditions Privat, 2013, p. 113.
  7. ^ Khare, C. P. (2007). Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary. Berlin: Springer Verlag. ISBN 978-0-387-70637-5. 
  8. ^ Wu, Xueqing; Zhu, Weifeng (1999). "Summary of Pharmacological Studies of Amorphophallus Riviers". LiShiZhen Medicine and Materia Medica Research. 10 (8): 631–632. (subscription required (help)). 
  9. ^ Das, S. S.; et al. (2009). "Effects of petroleum ether extract of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius tuber on central nervous system in mice". Indian journal of pharmaceutical sciences. 71 (6): 651–655. doi:10.4103/0250-474X.59547. PMC 2846470free to read. 
  10. ^ Dey, Yadu Nandan; et al. (2011). "Synergistic depressant activity of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius in Swiss albino mice". Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics. 2 (2): 121–123. doi:10.4103/0976-500X.81910. PMC 3127343free to read. 
  11. ^ The corm is irritant due to the presence of needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate. Ravi, V.; Ravindran, C. S.; Suja, S. (2009). "Growth and productivity of elephant foot yam (Amorphophallus paeoniifolius)(Dennst. Nicolson): An overview". Journal of Root Crops. Trivandrum, India. 35 (2): 131–142.  Boiling the corms dissolves the crystals and makes the corms edible.