Dioscorea villosa

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Dioscorea villosa
Wild yam in woods - young plants.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Dioscoreales
Family: Dioscoreaceae
Genus: Dioscorea
Species: D. villosa
Binomial name
Dioscorea villosa
  • Merione villosa (L.) Salisb.
  • Dioscorea sativa L.
  • Dioscorea quaternata Walter
  • Dioscorea quinata Walter
  • Dioscorea cliffortiana Lam.
  • Dioscorea paniculata Michx.
  • Dioscorea waltheri Desf.
  • Dioscorea glauca Muhl. ex L.C.Beck
  • Dioscorea hexaphylla Raf.
  • Dioscorea longifolia Raf.
  • Dioscorea megaptera Raf.
  • Dioscorea repanda Raf.
  • Dioscorea pruinosa Kunth
  • Dioscorea hirticaulis Bartlett
  • Dioscorea lloydiana E.H.L.Krause

Dioscorea villosa is a species of a twining tuberous vine that is native to eastern North America. It is common and widespread in a range stretching from Texas and Florida north to Minnesota, Ontario and Massachusetts.[1][2][3][4] It is currently on the United Plant Savers "At Risk" list. UpS is an organization concerned with the preservation of endangered medicinal plants on the territory of North America.[1]

Dioscorea villosa has been found by scientists to contain diosgenin, a phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens - the plant hormones - have been shown to interact with hormone receptors in human bodies.[2][3] Wild Yam and its extract has been promoted as a medicine for a variety of purposes, including cancer prevention and the treatment of Crohn's disease and whooping cough. It can be found in creams and other natural supplements.

According to the American Cancer Society, the claims are false and there is no evidence to support these substances being either safe or effective.[5]

In traditional Russian herbal medicine, saponin extracts from the roots of various varieties of wild yam are used as an anticoagulant, antisclerotic, antispasmodic, cholagogue, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic and a vasodilator.[6]


  1. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ Flora of North America
  3. ^ Govaerts, R., Wilkin, P. & Saunders, R.M.K. (2007). World Checklist of Dioscoreales. Yams and their allies: 1-65. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  4. ^ Biota of North America Program, 2013 county distribution map
  5. ^ "Wild Yam". American Cancer Society. November 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2013. 
  6. ^ Zevin, Igor Vilevich. A Russian Herbal. 1997. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press. p.146-47.

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