Dioscorea villosa L.

Locations ofDioscorea villosa L. in Virginia

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Botanical Name
Dioscorea villosa L.
Common Name
Wild Yam
Dioscorea villosa L. var. villosa; Dioscorea villosa L. var. hirticaulis (Bartlett) Ahles; Dioscorea quaternata (Walt.) J.F. Gmel.
Flora of Virginia Name/Status
Dioscorea villosa L.
Although there has been a convergence of taxonomic opinion that D. villosa is a wide-ranging polymorphic species, the geographically correlated variation seen in our area makes us wonder if the taxon isn't worthy of more systematic study. Relatively large plants with leaning, often much-branched stems and whorled lower leaves have been called Dioscorea quaternata (Walter) J.F. Gmelin. This variant is common in mesic to dry forests of the mountains and Piedmont, and seems deserving of reccognition at some level. Relatively slender, twining, and often prostrate plants with strictly alternate leaves are fairly common in the Coastal Plain and outer Piedmont, typically in alluvial and lowland habitats. A third variant which has been called D. hirsuticalus Bartlett or D. villosa var. hirsuticaulis (Bartlett) Ahles occurs in Coastal Plain sandhills from GA to NC, and was reportedly collected by Fernald (Prince George Co.) and Grimes (James City Co.) in se. Virginia; see Rhodora 39: 400-401, 1937.
In a wide range of habitats, including mesic to dry forests, dry rocky woodlands, floodplain forests, alluvial swamps, tidal swamps, seepage swamps, wet flatwoods, depression ponds and swamps, bogs, rocky or sandy scour bars, and clearings. Common throughout.
Native Status

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