Herb: Elephant Yam


Latin name: Amorphophallus paeoniifolius


Synonyms: Amorphophallus campanulatus, Dracontium paeoniifolium


Family: Araceae (Arum Family)



Medicinal use of Elephant Yam:

The root is carminative, restorative, stomachic and tonic. It is dried and used in the treatment of piles and dysentery. The fresh root acts as an acrid stimulant and expectorant, it is much used in India in the treatment of acute rheumatism. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
75 cm
(2 feet)

Scent:
Scented
Perennial

Habitat of the herb:

Loose leafy detritus in moist shady habitats. Tropical conditions in secondary forests, shrub forests and grasslands in arid valley areas at elevations below 750 metres.

Edible parts of Elephant Yam:

Rhizome - cooked. Acrid raw, it must be thoroughly boiled or baked. A very large root, it can be up to 50cm in diameter. Caution is advised, see notes above on probable toxicity. Leaves and petioles - they must be thoroughly cooked. Caution is advised, see notes above on possible toxicity.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown in a pot in a warm greenhouse as soon as it is ripe and the pot sealed in a plastic bag to retain moisture. It usually germinates in 1 - 8 months at 24C. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least a couple of years. Plant them out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts, and give them some protection such as a cloche until they are growing away strongly.

Cultivation of Elephant Yam:

Loose leafy detritus in moist shady habitats. Tropical conditions in secondary forests, shrub forests and grasslands in arid valley areas at elevations below 750 metres.

Known hazards of Amorphophallus paeoniifolius:

Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a family where most of the members contain calcium oxalate crystals. This substance is toxic fresh and, if eaten, makes the mouth, tongue and throat feel as if hundreds of small needles are digging in to them. However, calcium oxalate is easily broken down either by thoroughly cooking the plant or by fully drying it and, in either of these states, it is safe to eat the plant. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones and hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.