Dioscorea alata L.

Dioscorea alata L. 
Dioscorea alata
 photo by Bryan Harry
Latin Name: Dioscorea alata L.; Family Dioscoreaceae
Synonym Name: Dioscorea alata var. globosa (Roxb.) Prain ; Dioscorea alata var. purpurea (Roxb.) A.Pouchet; Dioscorea alata var. tarri Prain & Burkill  ; Dioscorea alata var. vera Prain & Burkill; Dioscorea atropurpurea Roxb.; Dioscorea colocasiifolia Pax    ; Dioscorea eburina Lour.; Dioscorea eburnea Lour.; Dioscorea globosa Roxb.; Dioscorea javanica Queva; Dioscorea purpurea Roxb.; Dioscorea rubella Roxb.; Dioscorea sapinii De Wild.; Dioscorea sapinii De Wildemann; Dioscorea vulgaris Miq.; Elephantodon eburnea (Lour.) Salisb.; Polynome alata (L.) Salisb.
English Name:  Winged Yam, Greater Yam
Description: Tubers variable, usually globose or conical (when cork brown or purplish black and transverse section purplish white), or oblate or cylindric, much branched (when cork brown or grayish yellow and transverse section white). Stem twining to right, glabrous, ridged, with 4 narrow, membranous wings, prickly at base. Bulblets present, variable in shape. Leaves alternate basally on stem, opposite distally on stem, simple; petiole green or purplish red, 4--15 cm; leaf blade green or purplish red, ovate, 6--15(--20) × 4--13 cm, papery, glabrous, base sagittate to deeply cordate, apex shortly acuminate or caudate. Male spikes solitary or a few together, 1.5--4 cm, sometimes forming a panicle; rachis obviously zigzagged. Male flowers: outer perianth lobes broadly ovate, 1.5--2 mm; stamens 6. Female spikes solitary or 2 or 3 together. Female flowers: staminodes 6. Capsule not reflexed, oblate, sometimes obcordate, 1.5--2.5 cm; wings 1.2--2.2 cm wide. Seeds inserted near middle of capsule, winged all round. Fl. Nov--Jan, fr. Dec--Jan.
Part Used: Medical part: tubers.
Chinese name: Maoshu.
Harvest & Processing: Excavated tuber in early tube, washed off sediment; or stored in jet covered with sand.
Chemistry: Contains anthocyanin, scabiolide, saccharides, amino acid like aspartic acid, minerals and fatty acid, etc.
Properties & Actions: Taste sweet, little harsh, neutral in nature. Invigorating spleen relieving diarrhea, nourishing lung and kidney, detoxicating and closing sores.
Indications & Usage: Used for splenasthenic diarrhea, emission with renal asthenia, leukorrhea, frequent urination, coughing with asthma due to consumptive disease, diabetes, pyocutaneous disease and inflammation, scalding and burns. Oral administration: decocting, 9-15g; or made as pills or powders. External application: appropriate amount, powdered.
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