Chinese mountain yam is one of the few tubers grown commercially in China and used extensively as a source of starch. Until recently this species was used only as an ornamental in the U.S, for the sweet smelling cinnamon like blossoms and rarely thought of as a delicious tuber. Not so much anymore where people are trying to find a perennial potato like substitute with less pest and disease issues. Mountain yam also produces aerial tubers which grow along the vine. These tubers will reach up to 1/2 inch in size and can be picked and added to soups and stews. If the tubers are left on, they will drop to the ground and either freeze to mush in the winter or grow into a new plant the following spring. The in ground tubers are best harvested in 1-2 years. After that they seem to break down here in Michigan. They are great stir fried in ghee or sesame oil and are easily digestible. You can also grow them to enormous size reaching 5-10 lbs each. This species is edible and should not to be confused with the poisonous species found in Florida or the indigenous North American species which are also not edible. These plants do not produce seeds are selected for their culinary uses. They are not the ornamental selections used by the bedding plant industry. These tubers are shipped in the dormant seasons from October- November and again in the spring from March through early May.
|Genus & Species||Dioscorea batatas|
|Soil||Grows best in sandy loam or clay loam soils where roots are not impeded by rocks.|
|Climate||Zone 5ish-9. Not particular.|
|Ease of Cultivation||Anyone can grow. Yields not a problem. Best to have a simple method of extraction like a grow bag with handles in the ground. Culinary uses are open to interpretation! Very easy to cook as well. For us-ghee and any spice is done deal.|