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Dioscorea elephantipes



30th May 2014


A South African species that produces a great tuberous caudex at the base - the elephant's foot of the name. The vining leafy shoots grow every year from the centre, produce greenish flowers and then die back.
This a tiny seedling planted in the Agave house, where I hope it will be hardy (a friend has one in a cold greenhouse just down the road so it is a reasonable hope). In thirty years it could be a magnificent knobbly tuber. It is all a bit speculative - thirty years ago I had a similar small seedling and similar hopes, both long gone.

24th October 2015


I am constantly surprised by the way the garden exposes things I hadn't noticed. For example, I knew I was fond of Dioscorea elephantipes but no sooner had I lowered my guard and let one in than a half dozen other specimens followed. My seedling has grown well, but it is dwarfed by some older plants that had outgrown their owners.
Dormant through the summer, it comes into leaf to take advantage of autumn and winter moisture.