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Dioscorea bako (bako)

Bako, only recently discovered and described, symbolises the importance of wild yams and their biodiversity to the Malagasy people.
Dioscorea bako tubers

Dioscorea bako tubers (Photo: A. & M. Hladik)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Dioscorea bako Wilkin

Common name: 

bako

Conservation status: 

IUCN status of Endangered (EN).

Habitat: 

Deciduous forest.

Key Uses: 

Starch source.

Known hazards: 

None.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Lilianae
Order: 
Dioscoreales
Family: 
Dioscoreaceae
Genus: Dioscorea

About this species

Despite having large tubers weighing up to 5.5 kg, distinctive vegetative and floral morphology and being an especially sought-after food plant, the yam species known as 'bako' in the Sakalava language has only just been formally described by botanists.

It was collated by Mamy Tiana Rajaonah, Vololoniaina Jeannoda and Kew’s Paul Wilkin during work on the 'Yams of Madagascar' project, a collaborative research programme of the Département de Biologie et Ecologie Végétales, Université d’Antananarivo and Kew.

Its exploitation as a favoured starch source, coupled with its restricted distribution, place it under significant threat of extinction. Research is underway on the conservation of bako, ensuring that future use is sustainable, but the work needs more resources.

Genus: 
Dioscorea

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