Unique yam under threat
Only two populations of this South African species are known in the wild.
22 Dec 2009
Botanist Linda Loffler monitoring Dioscorea strydomiana (Image: John Burrows)
This is the most unique and unusual yam I have come across, and probably the most threatenedKew yam expert Dr Paul Wilkin
One of Kew's most striking new recent discoveries is Dioscorea strydomiana - a critically endangered species from South Africa. There are only two populations of about 200 plants known in the wild.
This species is regarded as a cancer cure in the region where it grows, and is consequently under threat from over-collection by medicinal plant collectors who cut pieces off the tubers.
Dioscorea strydomiana does not look like a typical yam – it is shrub-like in appearance with a huge, slow-growing, lumpy wooden tuber above the ground measuring up to 1m in height and diameter. The tuber sprouts multiple shoots each spring.
- A bumper year for Kew in new species discovery
- Canopy giants from the rainforests of Cameroon
- From the tallest to the smallest - tiny fungi and miniature flowering plants
- New palms from Madagascar
- New coffee species that could help safeguard your daily cup
- An ancient aquatic plant on the rocks
- Discovered in a glasshouse!
- New knee-high eucalyptus discovered in Australia
- New species of indigo
- Orchids from Borneo's highest mountain
- Twenty new species from Brazil
Support plant science at Kew
By making a donation to Kew today you can help our scientists to find out more about the fascinating world of plants, break new ground and inspire generations of young people to get to know plants better.
Our scientific programmes are focused on understanding plants and conserving the world's plant life and habitats at risk. Plants are essential to life on earth. In a world where the sustainability of the planet’s rich biodiversity is becoming less certain, Kew’s science work is ever more critical. Find out how your donation can make a difference.
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew
- around the world
- the UK
- at risk
- ground breaking
- needs help
- english heritage
- Kew overseas
- verge of extinction
- wet tropics
- gifts that help
- South East Asia
- of use
- hot spot
- english garden