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Anybody know how to grow yamaimo/japanese mountain yam?

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  • Anybody know how to grow yamaimo/japanese mountain yam?

    Does anyone have any experience with Japanese mountain yam (Dioscorea opposita), also known as nagaimo or yamaimo? Specifically, I am interested in whether or not I could start a plant from a store bought tuber, like with potatoes or sweet potatoes.

    Jonathan

  • #2
    No, but we are growing Dioscorea elata. All our starts came from the "aerial tubers" it puts on around this time of year, but I do seem to remember at Tagari we found some coming up in the chicken dome beds from the peelings. If you find an "eye" on your yam I bet you could get it going!
    Do you know D. elata, bjgnome? If so, how is the opposita different? I am really looking forward to our first harvest of the elata. I find it quite delicious when baked in lots of olive oil and salted down, and it is really filling and so prolific. The tuber that I dug up from the plant we propagated from last year was like, a foot wide and two feet deep. I broke it off at that point - there was plenty more going down deeper adn deeper!
    Apparently the Hawaiians had it, but they would tend to use it as a poi substitute only when they had run out of Taro. There is some cool stuff on the growing culture in "Native Planters" where they talk about how the old growers would put a large flat stone at the base of a pit, fill it with humus from rotted out logs of kukui (aleurites molucanna or candlenut for the aussies here) and then plant the yam start in that. The flat stone would stop the tuber from going down, and force it to bulk out in to the hole...
    caretaking 14 acres of ridge and gully land at Huelo, Maui. 400-500 ft above sea level
    wet tropics/subtropics

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    • #3
      Richard,

      Can't tell you what the difference might be with D. elata. The yamaimo is kinda tawny colored on the outside, whitish and inside. The flesh is somewhat mucelaginous, a bit like taro, but lighter, crisper and more watery... and the taste is more like a potato. They grow quite long, I found this one in the chinese market in miami, about a meter in length, and a 2 inch diameter. I was happy to see they are selling sweet potato stems and leaves, in addition to tubers. Found water chestnuts, too. Shall I mail you a few?

      My wife says the yamaimo tuber grows horizontally under the earth. As for eyes, there are spots everywhere on the skin, but I'm not sure if they are really eyes. Apparently, in Japan, they are gathered from the wild, taking the bottom two-thirds of the root and leaving the top of the tuber and vines to regenerate.

      Jonathan

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      • #4
        Taro

        Two tropical gardeners!!

        Those yam things sound great and something I would love to try sometime. We have wild yams here but whenever I have tried them they seem rather tasteless.

        Can either of you tell me how to propogate and grow taro? I have purchased a number of these things from the supermarket over the years and have tried a number of different methods of growing them to no avail.

        I have never even had one sprout!! Are they normally propogated from slips?

        One more thing, ever heard of dioscorea velosa? Herbalists pay huge money for that, from memory it grows in japan and north america and it is used for 'womens problems'..

        Cheers

        Floot

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        • #5
          taro

          Floot,

          The taro I bought in the supermarket, they call it malanga, which seems to be a south american variety. One of them was sitting out on the counter a little too long, was starting to get dried out and moldy, so I threw it in some soil and it grew. Sorry, as this probably isn't helpful.

          Jonathan

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          • #6
            Originally posted by bjgnome
            Richard,

            Can't tell you what the difference might be with D. elata. The yamaimo is kinda tawny colored on the outside, whitish and inside. The flesh is somewhat mucelaginous, a bit like taro, but lighter, crisper and more watery... and the taste is more like a potato. They grow quite long, I found this one in the chinese market in miami, about a meter in length, and a 2 inch diameter. I was happy to see they are selling sweet potato stems and leaves, in addition to tubers. Found water chestnuts, too. Shall I mail you a few?

            My wife says the yamaimo tuber grows horizontally under the earth. As for eyes, there are spots everywhere on the skin, but I'm not sure if they are really eyes. Apparently, in Japan, they are gathered from the wild, taking the bottom two-thirds of the root and leaving the top of the tuber and vines to regenerate.

            Jonathan
            caretaking 14 acres of ridge and gully land at Huelo, Maui. 400-500 ft above sea level
            wet tropics/subtropics

            Comment


            • #7
              Oh bugger, pressed the wrong button. Was very excited to see your offer of water chestnuts in the mail. Do you think you could send us some? I would be forever grateful! I think there are some rules regarding this but I am going to pm you right now.
              caretaking 14 acres of ridge and gully land at Huelo, Maui. 400-500 ft above sea level
              wet tropics/subtropics

              Comment


              • #8
                Floot, and everyone, mostly taro's are grown by the side shoots, (or keiki's in hawaiian). You just break them off the mother plant and stick them in some fertile mud! A tuber will probably sprout too though. There are many varieties, but I think the culture is pretty well the same for mos, although some are adapted to wet conditions like a rice paddy and some "upland" varieties just neeed moist soil. Some taro's here are grown for their leaf which is edible if you cook it enough!
                My fave kind is the cocoyam which is actually from Africa I think, also called dasheen and other names. It has lots of little potato sized tubers rather than one big one, and big beautiful purple leaves.
                caretaking 14 acres of ridge and gully land at Huelo, Maui. 400-500 ft above sea level
                wet tropics/subtropics

                Comment


                • #9
                  Richard,

                  Maybe the taro in the supermarkets here have been irradiated or something. Next time I will track down some live plant material. All I have to do then is learn how to cook them.

                  :lol:

                  Mike

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                  • #10
                    the taro tuber is easy to cook. Boil like a potato. We like it in miso soup.

                    You can also grate it, which makes a sticky, starchy mush. This is good as a poultice to suck out toxins through the skin.

                    Key point in Richards suggestion about the leaves is cooking them enough. At least the variety I had was still toxic after a 20 minute simmer...sort of singing in the mouth and throat. My Japanese mother-in-law says over there they dry the stems before cooking, which I assume helps.

                    Richard, please explain more about the side shoots. Also, you can contact me through my e-mail address: bjgnome@aol.com

                    Jonathan

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                    • #11
                      Well, after a year or so in the ground the parent plant will generate new plants from the sides of the main corm, like a banana or a bamboo or whatever... You can just break these new plants off and replant them. Just like any kind of division really. Very easy!
                      Thanks for your address Jonathon, I'll email you now. I forgot about writing the PM this afternoon and ended up going back out to the garden!
                      caretaking 14 acres of ridge and gully land at Huelo, Maui. 400-500 ft above sea level
                      wet tropics/subtropics

                      Comment

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