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Dioscorea strydomiana (Strydom's yam)

Dioscorea strydomiana is a recently discovered yam from South Africa. It is critically endangered and one of the most unusual yam species anywhere in the world.
Strydom's yam with member of conservation team standing next to it

Adult plant of Dioscorea strydomiana, showing the tuber and shoot habit, and Linda Loffler, a member of the 2008 conservation survey team also seen (Photo: John Burrows).

Species information

Scientific name: 

Dioscorea strydomiana Wilkin

Common name: 

Strydom's yam

Conservation status: 

Rated as Critically Endangered (CR) according to IUCN Red List criteria.


Open woodland with a grass-rich understorey on steep, rocky, south-east to south-south-east facing slopes on soils over dolerite (sub-volcanic rock) with quartzite intrusions.

Key Uses: 


Known hazards: 

None known.


Genus: Dioscorea

About this species

One of Kew's most striking recent discoveries is Dioscorea strydomiana - a critically endangered yam from South Africa. Only two populations totaling about 200 plants are known in the wild. This species is believed to provide a cure for cancer in the region where it grows, and is consequently under threat from over-exploitation by medicinal plant collectors, who remove parts of the tubers. D. strydomiana was named by Kew botanist Paul Wilkin in honour of the late Gerhard Strydom, who, with Johan Hurter, played a significant role in the discovery of this species when he worked for the Mpumalanga Parks Board.


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