Dioscorea hispida Dennst.

Last updated: 14 Aug 2016

Scientific Name

Dioscorea hispida Dennst.


Dioscorea daemona Roxb., Dioscorea daemona var. reticulata Hook.f., Dioscorea hirsuta Blume, Dioscorea hispida var. daemona (Roxb.) Prain & Burkill, Dioscorea hispida var. reticulata (Hook.f.) Sanjappa, Dioscorea lunata Roth, Dioscorea mollissima Blume, Dioscorea triphylla var. daemona (Roxb.) Prain & Burkill, Dioscorea triphylla var. mollissima (Blume) Prain & Burkill, Dioscorea triphylla var. reticulata (Hook.f.) Prain & Burkill, Helmia daemona (Roxb.) Kunth, Helmia hirsuta (Blume) Kunth. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Gadung, ubi akas, ubi ara, ubi arak, ubi gadong, ubi gadung [2]
English Asiatic bitter yam [3]
China Bai shu liang [2]
India Baichandi, churka alu, gajackand, hastyaluka, karodi, kavalakodi, kolli, noorang kilangu, pedda anem, pedumpa, pei-perendai, podava-kelengu, tellaagini-gedalu, vaskand [2]
Thailand Hua-kluo, kagaw, kloi, kloi-huo-nieo, kloi-khao-nieo, koi, koi-nok, man-kloi [2]
Philippines Bagai, gayos, kalut, karot, karoti, kayos, kolot, korot, kulot, mamo, name, name, orkot [2].

Geographical Distributions

Dioscorea hispida occurs naturally from India and southern China, through Southeast Asia to New Guinea. There is no appreciable distribution or cultivation outside this area. Even in Southeast Asia, the plant is scarcely cultivated, so it spread is practically confined to its area of natural occurrence. [4]

Botanical Description

D. hispida is a member of the family Dioscoreaceae. It is a climbing herb with a fibrous root system. The tubers are brown ovoid or irregularly shaped, variable in size, poisonous; transverse section is white in clolour. [4]

The stem is twining to the left, to 30 cm, terete, stout, usually prickly, drying bright yellowish and with glabrescent and pubescent when young. [4]

The leaves are hairy and palmately trifoliolate, alternate with petiole to 30cm. Middle leaflet are usually ovate to elliptic, 6-12(-17.5)x4-12 cm, adaxially sparsely hispid, glabrescent, abaxially hispid, palmately veined, apex acuminate; lateral leaflets ovate-elliptic or nearly broadly oblong, oblique, smaller than middle leaflet, margin entire. [4]

The male inflorescence is a spike-like axillary panicles to 50 cm with 2 levels of branching, most parts densely tementose. Male flowers are usually in dense clusters; perianth ca. 1 mm, outer lobes smaller and thinner than inner ones with 6 stamens. Female spike solitary, to 40 cm. [4]

The fruit is a large capsule usually long ellipsoid, 3.5-7 cm, leathery, densely pubescent; wings 1.2-1.5 cm wide. [3]

The seed inserted near apex of capsule; wing pointing toward capsule base. [4]


D. hispida occurs mostly in rainforest areas. It is found mainly at lower elevations in the Philippines, but has been found growing at altitudes of up to 1200 m in the Himalayas. [4]

Chemical Constituent

D. hispida has been reported to contain dioscorine, tannin, alkaloids and saponin. [5]

Plant Part Used

Tubers [6]

Traditional Use

In Indonesia and China, the grated tuber of D. hispida is applied for beginning leprosy, skin diseases and corn, calluses and whitlow of feet. It is also applied on syphilitic sores, together with the tuber of Smilax china L. In Thailand, slices of the tubers of D. hispida are also applied topically to relieve abdominal spasms and colic, and to remove pus from wounds. In the Philippines and China, the tube is used for arthritis and rheumatism, and for cleaning maggot-infested wounds of animals. [7]

Preclinical Data


No documentation


The tuber contains two alkaloids (dioscorine and dioscorinine) which are poisonous. To render it edible a meticulous process of detoxifying the tuber was done. One method used in the South Pacific Islands, is by making very thin slices of the tuber and coating it with ashes, then soaked in streams or in salt water for 3 or 4 days, after which they should be sun dried. [4][7]

The signs and symptoms of poisoning are as follows; initially there is a feeling of discomfort in the throat intensifying to burning sensation. Then the victim feels giddy followed by haematemesis, sensation of suffocation, drowsiness and exhaustion. A piece of tuber the size of an apple is sufficient to kill a man within 6 hours. [4][7]

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing


Figure1: The line drawing of D. hispida [6]


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Dioscorea hispida Denst. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Aug 4]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-240268
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume II C-D. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 719.
  3. Institute of Thai Traditional Medicine. Pharmacognostic specification of Thai crude drugs Volume II. Chulalongkorn University, 2013; p. 161.
  4. Burkill IH. A dictionary of economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Malaysia, 1966; p. 812-813.
  5. Hudzari RM, Ssomad MA, Rizuwan YM, Asimi MN, Abdullah AB. Development of automatic alkaloid removal system for Dioscorea hispida. Front Sci. 2011;1(1):16-20.
  6. Aguilar NO. Dioscorea hispida Dennst. In: van Valkenburg JLCH, Bunyapraphatsara N, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers, 2001; p. 229-234
  7. Merril EM. Emergency food plants and poisonous plants of the Islands of the Pacific U.S. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1943; p. 18-19.