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Other Uses




Uhi -Edible yam Other Hawaiian Name: Ulehihi

English name:

Edible Yam
Family name:
Scientific name:
Dioscorea alata
Introduced by:
South East Asia
See Also...



Grows best in wet gulches and forests, where and the branches of trees serve as supports for this vine. It prefers the tropical climate and the Pacific islands. This is a very easily grown plant that succeeds in most fertile well-drained soils. It prefers a position in full sun, though it will also succeed in semi-shade


Stem: This is an herbaceous vine that needs stakes or tree trunks to grow on. The stems are square in cross section and with wings that are green or reddish colored.
Leaves: The leaves are 3-6 inches long, ovate or heart-shaped and arranged oppositely on the nodes of the stem.
This species do not produce aerial tubers (look like hanging potatoes). Its primary roots become enlarged into tubers that are very variable in shape (could be elongated or flat) and size. Some of the tubers are long and cylindrical with "toes" and are rough and scaly.
Uhi produces male and female flowers borne in separate inflorescences (flower cluster) on the same plant (monecious plant). Both types of flowers are small, inconspicuous without petals, and with light yellow or greenish yellow calyx. Capsules, with flat or winged seeds, are formed as fruits of uhi.


Uhi is eaten as carbohydrate food as kalo and `uala, and was prepared by cooking them in the imu. It was not made into poi because it was mealy, not smooth as taro. It was said to be highly digestible. The tubers can be boiled, baked, fried, mashed, grated and added to soups. They store well and for a long time, and can also be left in the ground and harvested as required.

It was an ingredient in prescriptions for coughs, for counteracting vomiting of blood, for constipation, "appendicitis", apoplexy and dysentery. Yam tubers are used medicinally in China and Japan. They are seen as a sweet soothing herb that stimulates the stomach and spleen and has a tonic effect on the lungs and kidneys. The tuber contains allantoin, a cell-proliferant that speeds the healing process. It is used internally in the treatment of poor appetite, chronic diarrhea, asthma, dry coughs, frequent or uncontrollable urination, diabetes and emotional instability. It is applied externally to ulcers, boils and abscesses.


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Last Modified: 14-Dec-2010 13:23 HST