Chinese Yam (Dioscorea Opposita)
Dioscorea Opposita is the Chinese wild yam which can be eaten raw. It is smaller than the African yam. It was introduced in Europe in the 19th century when the potato crop was affected by disease. Since Asian people prefer it a lot, it is still grown in France and sold to the Asia market.
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Chinese Yam Other Names
In Chinese it is known as ‘huai shan’.
In Korean it’s called ‘Seyeo’.
In Vietnam the yam is known as ‘Khoai mai’.
In Japanese it is known as ‘nagaimo’.
Chinese Yam Description
This vegetable has been elaborately described below.
Plant: This kind of yam is the swollen rhizome. It functions as a storage organ that holds nutrient for the plant. The Vines of this plant is almost 3 meters long. The rhizome is cylindrical in shape.
Leaves: Chinese yam has small heart Shaped leaves.
Flower: The plant has small white flowers which carry the scent of cinnamon.
Color: The vegetable has a pale yellow color.
Texture: The yam has a thin outer skin over its crispy white flesh. Fresh yam has a crispy texture and gives out a slippery mucous like substance similar to ladyfingers. The dried form of yams feels more like powdery white chalks.
Taste: This vegetable has a taste which is mildly similar to that of potato.
Chinese Yam Habitat & Distribution
The yams usually grow in cooler conditions. They are now grown in China, Korea and Japan.
Chinese Yam Cultivation
This vegetable can grow in areas with little or no shade. Places suited for the growth of this vegetable are sunny edges or woodland gardens, where it is cultivated in bed. Dioscorea Opposita or Chinese yam will grow better in loamy, hard and sandy soils. The soil should be well drained but moist for the vegetable to grow properly. Seeds of the plant are sown from March-April.
The plant takes 3-4 years to reach maturity. They are harvested in late summer and early autumn when they have formed the size of a pea and come off easily from the plant. The vegetable is a climber in general and grows by climbing over other plants. However, it is simpler when grown as a root crop.
Chinese Yam Nutritional Facts
This vegetable has certain nutritional values which are listed below.
Chinese Yam Health Benefits
This nutritious vegetable has several health benefits.
- The rhizome is popular in Chinese herb medicines where it is used to strengthen the lungs, tonify the spleen and kidneys.
- It is useful in treating diarrhea and poor appetite.
- The vitamin C present in the vegetable help in wound healing, bone growth and immune functioning. Also, it acts an anti-ageing element.
- The tuber is an excellent source of B-complex group of vitamins who mediate various metabolic functions of the body.
- Vitamin A in the tuber performs varied functions like maintaining healthy mucus membranes, night vision, and growth. It also provides protection from oral cavity and lung cancers.
- Potassium helps in controlling blood pressure and heart rate.
- Copper present in the tuber helps in production of red blood cells.
- Iron helps in formation of red blood cells.
- Phyto-estrogens present in tuber help in regulating female hormone levels in relation to progesterone.
Chinese Yam Uses
The Chinese Yam is used for varied purposes.
- The Tuber yields a floury texture which can be used in various recipes.
- The roots yield arrowroot which is good at binding other foods.
- The tuber can be eaten raw as salads.
- The root extracts help in treating nephritis, hyperthyroidism and diabetes.
- The root extracts are also used internally in the treatment of tiredness, poor indigestion, poor appetite, dry coughs, weight loss, emotional instability and many more.
- The tuber is also used in treating ulcers and boils.
- The juice of the leaves is useful in treating snakebites and scorpion stings.
- The tuber acts as an Anthelmintic element which removes parasites from the gut.
Chinese Yam during Pregnancy
The Chinese Yam acts as a contraceptive medicine preventing fertilization in females. Therefore, it is best avoided during pregnancy as it might lead to complications.
Chinese Yam Availability
Both fresh and dried form of this yam is available in Asian supermarkets.
Chinese Yam Recipes
‘Fufu’ or ‘pounded yam’, an African dish is prepared during yam festival. The powder of this yam is used to make a cake-like mass which is taken with soup, sauce or stew.
Chinese Side Effects
There are no side effects of taking Chinese yam as medicines or in the form of food. However, avoiding during or pre-pregnancy is highly suggested. Also avoid over consumption of the vegetable.
Chinese Yam Interesting Facts
Here are a few interesting facts about this vegetable.
- The Chinese yams are warm temperate species.
- The Chinese yam has been the staple food of the far south-east Asian countries since the prehistoric times.
- The Chinese yam has certain pharmaceutical properties which has given rise to a nickname ‘Shan Yao’ which means ‘mountain drug’.
- A yam festival is celebrated in Nigeria and Ghana with the harvest of yams. It is symbolic to fresh crop and availability of fresh food in abundance.
Chinese Yam Pictures
Take a look at some of the pictures of Chinese Yam.
- by Anindita Roy
- May 23rd 2012