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Chinese yam (Dioscorea oppositifolia)

Chinese yam Synonyms: Dioscorea polystachya, Dioscorea batatas

Common Names: Cinnamon vine, Japanese mountain vine, Korean yam

Description: Economically valued as a food plant and is used as a traditional Chinese medicine.

Habit: Deciduous perennial, creeping and climbing vine, may reach up to 16 ft in height given support from trees and shrubs, twine left to right.

Leaves: Acute to acuminate with a cordate (heart-shaped) base, alternate or opposite in arrangement, 1.5-3 in long and up to 1.5 in wide with 7-9 veins. Margins, petioles and stems are purplish to red in color.

Stems: Smooth, creeping, climbing, twisting.

Flowers: Small, yellowish-white in color, arise from the axils of the leaves. The perianth is bell-shaped and the staminate (male) flowers are in bundles, spikes or panicles at the end of the branches. May have a spicy fragrance similar to cinnamon. Arrangement may be paniculate or spicate.

Fruit and seeds: Seeds are borne in a three-angle membranous capsule.

Habitat: Native to China. Found in forests, stream sides, disturbed or undisturbed areas, roadsides, fencerows, waste places, and old home sites.

Reproduction: By seeds and by bulbil or small aerial tubers that are produced in the axils of the leaves. They are present from June to September.

Similar species: Species of Greenbrier (Smilax spp.); Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis); and native wild yam (Dioscorea villosa).

Monitoring and rapid response: Mowing or cutting will control the spread but will not eradicate it unless it is continued until the root reserves are exhausted. Grubbing methods are appropriate for small initial populations or environmentally sensitive areas. Mulching and use of several readily available general use herbicides such as glyphosate or triclopyr.

Credits: The information provided in this factsheet was gathered from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

Individual species images that appear with a number in a black box are courtesy of the network ( photo author credits may not be included due to the small display size of the images and subsequent difficulty of reading the provided text. All other images appear courtesy of Google (


Priority Species

Common Name:

Chinese yam

Scientific Name:

Dioscorea oppositifolia







USDA Symbol:


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