Family • Discororeaceae - Dioscorea esculenta Lour. - LESSER YAM - Gan shu

Scientific names

Dioscorea esculenta Lour.
Discorea papillaris Blanco
Discorea tugui Blanco
Discorea sativa Blanco
Discorea fasciculata Roxb.
Discorea tiliaefolia Kunth
Discorea aculeata Naves
Oncus esculentus Lour.
Gan shu (Chin.)

Common names

Aneg (Ibn.)
Boga (Ilk.)
Dukai (Iv.)
Kamiging (Bik.)
Luttu (Ibn.)
Toñgo (Tag.)
Tugi (Tag., Ilk.)
Tuñgo (Tag.)
Asiatic yam (Engl.)
Chinese yam (Engl.)
Lesser yam (Engl.)
Tian shu (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Ci shu yu, You ci gan shu.
FRENCH: Igname De Chine épineuse, Igname Des Blancs.
GERMAN: Chinesischer yam.
PORTUGUESE: Inhame, Inhame-De-São.
SPANISH: Batata de China.
TAMIL: Siruvalli kilangu.
TELUGU: Tippa Tiga.

Tugi is a slender, slightly hairy, spiny vine, reaching a height of several meters. Tubers are 15 to 20 centimeters long, except in the case of some cultivated forms. Leaves are simple, suborbicular to reniform, 6 to 12 centimeters long, apiculate, the base 11- to 15-nerved, prominently heart-shaped, with rounded lobes. Spikes are slender, axillary, pubescent, up to 50 centimeters long. Flowers are green, about 4 millimeters in diameter.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Local Root Crops as Antioxidants / Innovations Report

(2) Starch and sugar conversion in Dioscorea esculenta tubers and Curcuma longa rhizomes during storage / R Panneerselvam and C Abdul Jaleel / Caspian J. Env. Sci. 2008, Vol. 6 No. 2 pp. 151~160

(3) In vitro antioxidant studies of Dioscorea esculenta (Lour). Burkill / Manickam Murugan, Veerabahu Ramasamy Mohan* / Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine (2012)S1620-S1624

(4) Antifertility acitivity of ethanol extract of Dioscorea esculenta (L.) Schott on male albino rats. / P.S. Shajeela, V.R.Mohan*, L. Louis Jesudas and P.Tresina Soris / International Journal of PharmTech Research, Vol. 3, No.2, pp 946-954, April-June 2011

– In thickets and secondary forests at low altitudes in Bataan Islands, in Cagayan, Benguet, La Union, Pangasinan in Luzon, and in Semirara.
– Also cultivated, but not as extensively as ubi (Dioscorea alata).
– Also occurs in China, India to Malaya and Polynesia.


– Contains 83% starch, 12% protein.
– Tubers are a good source of vitamin B.
– Phytochemical screening yielded saponins, diosgenin, ß-sitosterol, stigmasterol, cardiac glycosides, fat and starch.
– Edible yams have yield polyphenolic substances such as catechins, epicatechins, chlorogenic acids, leucoanthocyanidins and anthocyanins.

– Traditionally uses suggest anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, anti-spasmodic properties.

Part utilized

Edibility / Nutritional
– Cooked like potatoes.
– Rich in carbohydrates, a good source of vitamin B, with a nutritional value similar to ubi.

– The raw tubers are applied to swellings.
– In Indo-China, decoction of the tubers used for rheumatism and as diuretic.
– In China, used for beriberi.
– Tuber paste applied to ulcers, boils, abscesses.
– Used in the treatment of menopausal symptoms and other genital organ disorders.

Tugi4Study Findings
• 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, diosgenin, 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.
• Antioxidant / Phenolic Content: Study of a methanolic extract showed a total phenolic content of 0.7 g/110g. Results confirmed potential in vitro antioxidant activity, which was attributed to phenols and flavonoids.
• Inulin: Study showed the production of inulin powder from lesser yam through the foam mat drying method using maltodextrin and egg white as filler and foaming agent. Inulin is a natural nondigestible fructooligosaccharide that occurs as reserve carbohydrate in several plants. Higher amounts of inulin could be extracted from D. esculenta compared to other tubers.
• Antifertility Activity: Study investigated the antifertility effect of an ethanol extract in male albino rats. Results showed antifertility effects by inhibition of sperm concentration, motility, and testosterone.