Wednesday, 30 December 2009

South African Yam Under Threat

Unique yam under threat

Only two populations of this South African species are known in the wild.
“This is the most unique and unusual yam I have come across, and probably the most threatened”

Kew yam expert Dr Paul Wilkin

Botanist Linda Loffler monitoring Dioscorea strydomiana (Image: John Burrows)

One of Kew's most striking new recent discoveries is Dioscorea strydomiana - a critically endangered species from South Africa. There are only two populations of about 200 plants known in the wild. This species is regarded as a cancer cure in the region where it grows, and is consequently under threat from over-collection by medicinal plant collectors who cut pieces off the tubers. Dioscorea strydomiana does not look like a typical yam – it is shrub-like in appearance with a huge, slow-growing, lumpy wooden tuber above the ground measuring up to 1m in height and diameter. The tuber sprouts multiple shoots each spring.

For more information:

The Indepedent:

The Guardian:

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