Dioscorea elephantipes 3"
UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley

Dioscorea elephantipes 3"

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Common name: Elephant’s Foot, Hottentot Bread

Special notes: Commonly known as Elephant's Foot , Dioscorea elephantipes is a caudex forming deciduous climber from South Africa.  It is rich in starch, therefore the name Hottentot bread, and is covered on the outside with thick, hard, corky plates. It requires significant processing before being eaten to remove toxic compounds…as such we highly recommend just enjoying the beauty of this unusual plant.

It is primarily a winter grower with a summer dormancy that is indicated when leaves begin to fall off, at which point watering should be sparse for approx 2 months until the next cycle of leafy growth. The cycles can be erratic but generally they are summer dormant.  The caudex is sensitive to prolonged exposure to heat and full sunlight, and a dappled-sun or semi-shaded position with leaves being able to reach more sun is preferable in cultivation. Needs well draining soil.

Family: Dioscoreaceae
Native to: South Africa
Form: Caudex forming geophytic vine
Size:  up to 7’H
Blooms: May, June
Flowers: Pale green, yellowish
Light: Part Sun / Shade for caudex, Full sun for leaves
Water: Low
Hardiness: 30F
Soil: Well draining