Herbs & Plants

Tugi(Lesser Yam)

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Botanical Name : Dioscorea esculenta Lour
Family : Dioscoreaceae – Yam family
Genus : Dioscorea L. – yam
Species: Dioscorea esculenta (Lour.) Burkill – lesser yam
Kingdom : Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom :     Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division : Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class : Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Subclass: Liliidae

Other Scientific Names: Oneus esculentus Lour.  ,Discorea papillaris Blanco  ,Discorea tugui Blanco  ,Discorea sativa Blanco  ,Discorea fasciculata Roxb.  ,Discorea tiliaefolia Kunth  ,Discorea aculeata Naves

Common Names :Aneg (Ibn.),Boga (Ilk.),Dukai (Iv.),    Tuñgo (Tag.),Asiatic yam (Engl.) ,a Lesser yam (Engl.),Kamiging (Bik.),Luttu (Ibn.),Toñgo (Tag.),Tugi (Tag., Ilk.)

Habitat : Native of SE Indochina, and widespread in the East, recently introduced to W Africa and found under cultivation around the coast, particularly from Ivory Coast to Nigeria.The plant requires a somewhat seasonal climate. In thickets and secondary forests at low altitudes.Cultivated, but not as extensively as ubi.


Slender, slightly hairy vine, reaching a height of several meters. The tubers are 15-20 cm long. Leaves are simple, suborbicular to reniform, 6-12 cms. apiculate, the base 11- to 15-nervbed, prominently heart-shaped, with rounded lobes. Spikes are slender, axillary, pubescent, up to 50 cm long. Flowers are green, about 4 mm long.

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A spiny climber to 12 m high twining left-handed, with numerous shallow-rooted tubers, It is a 6–10 months crop with short dormancy period. The tubers are small and are found in clusters of some 5 to 20 slightly below the soil surface. Unselected forms produce spiny roots lying above the tubers as a protection. Selection has eliminated some or all of the spininess in certain cultivars. Yield is high and the tubers are palatable and nutritious. Tubers grown in Ivory Coast have been recorded producing 83% starch and 12% protein. Many races in Asia are slightly sweet. The tubers do not store well. They are quick to sprout if left in the ground and are easily damaged in harvesting. Six months storage is said to be possible of sound roots in a dry well-ventilated store. They are not suitable for transport to distant markets, nor for turning into fufu. There appears to be scope for growing the plant under mechanical cultivation.

Constituents and properties:
*Contains 83% starch, 12% protein.
*Phytochemical screening yielded saponins, diosgenin, ß-sitosterol, stigmasterol, cardiac glycosides, fat and starch.
*Genins are used in the semi-synthesis of sex hormones, progesterone and testosterone, while diogenin has been used for the partial synthesis of cortisone.

Edible Uses:Cooked like potatoes. Rich in carbohydrates, a good source of vitamin B, with a nutritional value similar to ubi.

Medicinal Uses:
Of limited use medicinally.
*The raw tubers are applied to swellings.
*A decoction of the tubers used for rheumatism and as diuretic.
*In China, used for beriberi.

• Anti-inflammatory / Phytochemicals: Methanol extract study of D esculenta exhibited significant dose-dependent inhibition of carrageenan-induced edema and supports its folkloric use in inflammation. Phytochemical screening yielded saponins, disgenin, ß-sitosterol, stigmasterol, cardiac glycosides, fat and starch.
• Antioxidant: Study screening the phenolic content of different varieties of root crops in the Philippines, including D esculenta, found the roots crops a rich source of phenolic compounds with antioxidant activity.
• Storage Effect: Study of 1 to 7 weeks of storage revealed the moisture content, dray weight and starch levels decreased gradually with a concomitant increase in sugar content under different stages of dormancy.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Ubi Itik

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