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Dioscorea elephantipes - Elephant's Foot - 5 seeds

Dioscorea elephantipes - Elephant's Foot - 5 seeds


Dioscorea elephantipes, commonly known as Elephant's Foot, is a very beautiful caudiciform plant from South Africa that is often described as weird and wonderful. 


The beauty of Dioscorea elephantipes lies in its much divided, deeply fissured above-ground caudex said to resemble an Elephants foot and which in some cases can in time grow to as much as 3m in height, with the tuber reaching 90cm in diameter.


Dioscorea elephantipes is a perennial geophytic climber that is Summer deciduous, it is used to extreme heat above 40°C, but it can also take low temperatures - 4°C.  The plant is adapted to growing in areas with seasonal rainfall, by going dormant in the dry season and the above ground caudex is protected by elephantine bark while it rests.  During the cooler months of winter and spring it produces foliage and flowers, but in Summer the plant conserves energy by dropping its leaves just before the onset of the Summer heat.


These plants are monoecious, meaning that the flowering sexes are found on separate plants, the stems grow in a climbing fashion and the leaves are heart shaped.  Male flowers are erect with spiny racemes, female flowers are in spinescent, spreading spikes.  The flowers are pale greenish yellow and normally appear in late Autumn to Winter and seed is produced in Spring.


It is believed the Khoisan used to bake the starchy, bread like trunk which was used as a food source.  Other members in the genus Dioscorea are used to extract steroidal saponins which are used to produce cortisone and contraceptives and unfortunately many of the South African species have been over harvested for testing purposes.


The plant appears to have a wide tolerance of growing habitats, growing in weathered rock, on dry, stony slopes, under the protection of karroid bushes. 


The plant's caudex (short, thick stem) can reach heights of 3m in ideal conditions.


Dioscorea elephantipes will live for approximately 70 years in cultivation if it is looked after - do not overwater during the Summer months, as this will shorten its life span by at least half.  In its natural environment it rests during the hot dry Summer, and this is replicated even when cultivated in much more favourable growing conditions.


5 premium quality seeds shipped on receipt of cleared funds.

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