Dioscorea bako (bako)
Dioscorea bako tubers (Photo: A. & M. Hladik)
Dioscorea bako Wilkin
IUCN status of Endangered (EN).
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.