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Dioscorea hispida Dennst.


Dioscorea hispida Dennst.




Dioscorea triphylla L., Dioscorea hirsuta Dennst., Dioscorea daemona Roxb.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Ubi arak, gadongan, gadong mabok.
English Asiatic bitter yam, intoxicating yam.
Indonesia Gadung (General), sikapa (Bali, Sulawesi), ondo (Ambon).
Philippines Nami (Tagalog), gayos (Bisaya), karot (Ilokano).
Burma (Myanmar) Kywe.
Cambodia Dâmlô:ng k'duöch (Western).
Laos Hwà ko:y (Northern).
Thailand Kloi (Central), kloi-nok (Northern), kloi-huanieo (Nakhon Ratchasima).
Vietnam C[ur] n[ee].

Geographical Distributions

Dioscorea hispida occurs naturally from India and southern China, through Southeast Asia to New Guinea. There is no appreciable distribution or cultivation outside this area. Even in Southeast Asia, the plant is scarcely cultivated, so it spread is practically confined to its area of natural occurrence.


D. hispida is a climbing herb with a fibrous root system. The tubers are renewed annually from a superficial corm which they grow as lobes where in outline are spherical, sometimes slightly elongated and pale yellow to light grey. The flesh is white to lemon-yellow. The stem is twining to the left, firm, measuring 9 mm or more in diametre, usually prickly, drying bright yellowish and with glabrescent. The bulbils are absent.

The leaves are trifoliolate, herbaceous to chartaceous and pubescent. The middle leaflet is oblong-elliptical (rarely obovate or tripartite), measuring up to 30 cm x 28 cm and acuminate. The lateral leaflets are inequilateral where the outer is a half 3-nerved. The petiole is usually longer than the middle leaflet and usually with small prickles on the back. The petiolules are up to 1 cm long.

The male inflorescence is a spike-like, branches on leafless, 2-3-compounded, measures up to 50 cm long, with closely packed or spaced sessile flowers and with 6 fertile stamens. The female inflorescence is solitary from the upper leaf axils, pendulous and with flowers spaced.

The fruit is a large woody capsule, honey-coloured, with 3-winged and face upwards. The wings measuring 40-60 mm x 10-12 mm and sometimes freed in dehiscence margin. The seed is winged.

Ecology / Cultivation

D. hispida occurs mostly in rainforest areas. It is found mainly at lower elevations in the Philippines, but has been found growing at altitudes of up to 1200 m in the Himalayas.

Line Drawing / Photograph


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  1)  Safety


  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 9: Plants yielding non-seed carbohydrates.

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