Dioscorea alata – Winged Yam

This species is a common food plant throughout the world, grows in northern Australia, and is now extending it’s range into northern NSW.  It makes an ornamental plant as well as being a good edible, with lush foliage. It grows as a perennial vine, and can grow to the top of trees if allowed, but can be trained onto a frame.  It can be used to also provide dappled shade for other plants. A great alternative to potatoes for the vegetable garden in northern areas, they need warmth and a rainy summer and dry winter to do best. Can be grown as far south as Sydney, as long as it is in a frost-free area. Normally deciduous in winter, depending on temperature, and this is a good signal to harvest the tuber, which can grow quite large.
Culinarily, they can be used for all the same purposes as potatoes, and more, including desserts. It grows from bulbils that grow on the stems, from cuttings or from pieces of the tuber. Be aware that it can be a weedy plant in certain areas, so dispose of unwanted plant material with care.

Scientific Name:Dioscorea alata
Common Name:Winged Yam
Other Common Names:Purple Yam
Plant Type:Climber, Bulb or bulb-like
Height:1 ~ 5 metre
Width:1 ~ 3 metre
Flower Colour:White, Yellow
Flowering Time:Spring, Summer
Ph Level:Acid, Neutral
Soil Type:Sandy, Loamy, Sandy loam, Clay loam, Potting mix
Plant Environment:Low maintenance garden, Coastal garden, Drought resistant
Climate Zone:Tropical, Sub-tropical, Warm temperate
Planting Season:Spring
Growth Habit:Deciduous, Spreading
Soil Moisture:Well-drained
Propagation Method:Softwood cutting, Semihardwood cutting, Bulb
Frost Tolerance:Not frost tolerant
Plant Usage:Screen
Special Features:Edible, Fast growing
Attracts Wildlife:Mammals

The information provided on the Gardening With Angus website is provided for general educational purposes about a variety of Australian plants. We recommend you seek further advice from qualified professionals regarding your own individual circumstances.  Further disclaimer information>>


Once you have found the plant that looks right for you, the next step is where to buy it.
Most nurseries stock a good range of plants, but due to space and supplies, they may not always have the plant that you are searching for in stock. If they don’t, they may be able to order it in for you if you request it.
Specialist nurseries are also able to give great advice, and if they don’t have the plant you have planned on, they can often suggest alternatives that will also work well for you.
Below is a list of our favourite specialist nurseries. Click on the links for their details-


The Wildflower Place Erina – NSW 


Newcastle Wildflower Nursery – NSW


IndigiGrow- Sydney- NSW


Harvest Seeds And Native Plant Nursery – Sydney – NSW


Native Grace Nursery – Robertson NSW


Wariapendi Nursery – Colo Vale NSW


Sydney Wildflower Nursery – NSW


Cool Country Natives – ACT


Geelong Native Plants – Victoria


Wimmera Native Nursery – Victoria


Forest Heart eco-Nursery – Maleny Queensland


Natives R Us – Traveston – Queensland 


Zanthorrea Nursery – Perth WA


Manuka Native Nursery – South Australia




The Native Shop – mail order


Plants In A Box




Angus recommends Bush Tucker fertiliser for native plants.