Pinyin: shan yao Latin: Dioscorea Batatas
Dioscorea Batatas or Chinese Yam is perennial growing to 3m by 1.5m hardy to zone 5 in flower from September to October. The Chinese Yam flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). Chinese Yam is not self-fertile prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. Dioscorea Batatas prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade and requires moist soil.
Edible Parts: Fruit; Root.*
Wild Yam tuber is cooked[1, 46, 61, 105] with a floury texture and a very pleasant flavour that is rather like a potato[K].
Dioscorea Batatas tubers can be boiled, baked, fried, mashed, grated and added to soups. They store well and for a long time[27, 37] and can also be left in the ground and harvested as required in the winter[K]. This is a top quality root crop, very suitable for use as a staple food[K]. An arrowroot can be extracted from the root, though this is not as good at binding other foods as the starch from D. japonica. The root contains about 20% starch. 75% water, 0.1% vitamin B1, 10 - 15 mg% vitamin C. Fruit. A starchy flavour, it is said to be very good for the health. We wonder if this report is referring to the tubercles[K].*
Traditional Chinese Medicinal (TCM) Uses:*
The Chinese yam, called Shan Yao in Chinese herbalism, is a sweet soothing herb that stimulates the stomach and spleen and has a tonic effect on the lungs and kidneys.*
The tuber contains allantoin, a cell-proliferant that speeds the healing process. The root is an ingredient of "The herb of eight ingredients", traditionally prescribed in Chinese herbalism to treat hyperthyroidism, nephritis and diabetes. Chinese Yam tuber is anthelmintic, digestive and gently tonic[116, 147, 218, 254].*
Dioscorea Batatas is used internally in the treatment of tiredness, weight loss, poor appetite, poor digestion, chronic diarrhea, asthma, dry coughs, frequent or uncontrollable urination, diabetes and emotional instability. Chinese Yam is applied externally to ulcers, boils and abscesses[218, 238].*
The tubers are harvested in the autumn and can be used raw or baked. The leaf juice is used to treat snakebites and scorpion stings.*
- [K] Ken Fern
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Source: Dioscorea Batatas Chinese Yam Plants For A Future, England 1996-2008.
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