Updated: Sep 1, 2019
The Elephant Foot Yam is not the same type of yam that you are probably envisioning. While they are not the most attractive looking, they are a huge culinary staple. They are also most known for their flower. So what all can we learn about them?
Physical Characteristics and Use
This plant is often used as a dietary staple in India, where it can be used as a cash crop. All parts of this plant are used, such as the roots and leaves for curries. The leaves can be a couple of meters tall, and often have a variety of leaflets on the ends.
The main reason for the popularity of this plant is the fact that it stinks. It grows a huge purple flower as it matures, which emits a foul odor. This odor is used to attract pollinating insects, which helps the plant grow and reproduce.
The part that is its namesake is are the tubers. They are small wrinkled gray spuds that grow from the plant's root. It can take up to 4 years of growing before this plant is ready to be harvested. The corms (tubers) themselves can weigh up to 25 kg (55 lbs) but usually weigh between 3 to 9 kg (6 to 20 lbs).
Habitat and Distribution
Many cultures in India cultivate this crop to benefit from the tubers. This is because they are actually fairly high in a wide amount of vitamins and minerals that may be scarce from other sources. They are also found in Madagascar, as well as in Southeast Asia, although to a far lesser degree. It needs to be hot and humid for this plant to grow, so there are not many places that it can be cultivated.
Check out more about this plant and more fascinating plants like it in the YouTube video below.