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One of the most unusual plants is the yam or dioscorea. This plant has more than 600 varieties, most of which are grown in Africa. The plant is used not only in cooking, but also in medicine.
Yam has many beneficial properties for the body. It can be grown in the conditions of the Russian Federation, but it is worth familiarizing yourself with the rules of cultivation.
What it is?
Dioscorea belongs to herbaceous perennial plants, shrubs or vines. Given that the yam forms tubers that can be eaten, this plant is also considered a vegetable, namely its fruits.
The Latin name for the plant is Dioscorea. Depending on the type, the name may be as follows:
- Caucasian - caucasica;
- nippon - nipponica;
- elephant - elephantipes;
- furry or wild yam - villosa;
- Chinese - oppositifolia.
Description of appearance
At the base of the plant there is a rounded and large caudex, which contains all the nutrients and water. The size of caudex in adult plants can reach 1 m.
- In the spring dioscorea forms thin stems, very fast growth is characteristic of its seedlings. The leaves are heart-shaped, reaching 20 cm in length and 15 cm in width. Their surface is shiny, the color is dark olive. They are located on the stems alternately. The leaf stalks are 6 cm long.
- At the end of the summer season yams form small inflorescences that consist of fluffy green-white flowers.
Which one belongs to:
- family - Discorrhea;
- family - Dioscorea;
- order - Dioskoretsvetnye;
- class - Monocots;
- department - Flowering.
In its natural environment, yams grows in areas with tropical and subtropical climates. Dioscorea is grown as a food product in Africa, South Asia, and grass can also be found on many islands in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean.
The beneficial properties of this plant are explained by its rich composition. Yam root crops contain a large amount of:
- vitamin A;
- pantothenic acid;
- vitamin B6;
- folic acid;
- vitamin C;
- vitamin E;
- vitamin B4;
Also, the tuber contains various alkaloids, allantoin, phytoestrogens and starch - the main nutrient of the plant.
Types of dioscorea: description and photo
There are many types and subspecies of yams. The most popular ones are described below.
It has thin, twisting shoots that are sometimes purple in color due to their high anthocyanin content. The leaves are green, the shape is simple, oblong. The surface is shiny. Forms male and female inflorescences, which are located on various plants. Inflorescences are collected in massive brushes.
A feature of wild dioscorea is the high content of diosgenin in the tubers and roots of the plant. They are used to synthesize steroids. Tubers are rarely eaten because of their bitter taste..
It looks like a liana, on which emerald leaves are located, they reach 20 cm, have a glossy surface. Veins are clearly visible on the plates. Although this species is characterized by different shapes and sizes of leaves. The size of the plant reaches 5 meters. During the flowering period, loose inflorescences appear on Dioscorea, which consist of white bell-shaped flowers.
A feat that sheds leaves. It has a large-sized grayish-green caudex with high polygonal projections. The projections are striped brown and gray. Because of this, it looks like a turtle shell. From the upper part of the caudex, thin, twisting shoots of a pale green color grow. Their length reaches 50 cm.
On the shoots there are heart-shaped leaves alternately... Over time, the shoots begin to woody and become covered with a brown crust at the base. The leaves are slightly bent in the central part, have a glossy surface. The leaf plates are colored yellow and green.
Same as wild yam. It looks like a liana on which thin green shoots grow. Branching of the stems is sometimes observed, but generally it does not. The leaves are heart-shaped and are arranged on long petioles. The surface of the sheet plates is glossy. On the underside of the leaf, there is a pubescence of a light green shade. Forms inflorescences with a large number of small white-yellow flowers.
Dioscorea ordinary is considered a Chinese wild type of plant.
The use of vegetables in medicine and cooking
In cooking, both plant leaves, stems and roots and tubers are used. Some types of yam can be eaten raw, some must be cooked. Root vegetables can be fried, boiled, baked or stewed.
Also, often roots are dried and flour is made, which is used to make tortillas, bread, or as an additive to sauces.
In medicine, yams are used for:
- treatment of diseases of the genitourinary system;
- stimulation of the production of female sex hormones;
- as a cholesterol lowering agent;
- treatment of rheumatism;
- restoration of normal functioning of the cardiovascular system;
- as a general tonic.
For treatment, tincture of yam roots is mainly used.
For cooking you will need:
- 100 g of finely chopped plant root;
- 50 ml of vodka or alcohol.
Dioscorea is poured with vodka and infused for 10 days in a dark place. Strain before use. Reception is carried out after meals, 20-35 drops 3 times a day.
There is a desire to grow dioscorea at home, then you will need to follow the following recommendations:
- First of all, it is worth providing a special support on which the yam will grow.
- Pruning is an important maintenance measure to keep the plant bushy and compact. You need to cut the plant only after the leaves turn yellow and fall off.
- A heavy, clayey soil rich in nutrients is used as a growing substrate.
- It is important in the container in which the dioscorea is grown, to use a drainage layer 3-4 cm thick.
- Top dressing is carried out once every 14 days. Common liquid mineral fertilizers are used, but yams take organic fertilizers well, so you can use them.
- Needs periodic spraying, although dry climate also tolerates well.
- Watering is carried out in moderation, waiting for the topsoil to dry out. After the plant reaches a height of 30 cm, watering is intensified, but at the same time, water does not stagnate in the pan.
With the onset of the autumn period and the dying off of the leaves, watering is reduced to a minimum and the plant is allowed to go into a state of dormancy.
- As for diseases and pests, bright lighting can harm the plant, namely direct sunlight - they leave burns on the leaves. For this reason, spraying cannot be carried out during the day, it is better to do this in the morning, when the sun is not yet too active. In some cases, the plant is damaged by red spider mites, upon detection of which they use acaricides and process yams.
A very useful and specific plant is yam, which can be grown at home or in a greenhouse. Providing the crop with optimal growing conditions, you can achieve a good harvest. Root crops and other parts of the plant can be used in the future both for food and for preparing medicinal products from them.