Dioscorea villosa

Wild Yam



Bare Root Plants
Out of Stock

Wild Yam is a perennial, climbing vine that, with a trellis or other support, will reach heights of 15 ft. In May, the vine will have nondescript clusters of small, greenish-yellow flowers.  From this tiny flower, though, large seeds will develop by early Fall. These flowers are dioecious, meaning the flowers on any one plant are either male or female. The plant is therefore not self-fertile and both male and female plants need to be grown together to produce seed. Our bare root plants are usually not old enough to show these male or female flowers so, if you are ordering plants, you may want to order 3 or more to increase your odds of getting both genders. Another example of a dioecious vine is the popular Bittersweet vine (Celastrus scandens)

The heart-shaped leaves of Wild Yam are shiny and smooth on the surface while the underside is velvety.  Contrary to what the name suggests, Wild Yam does not produce edible tubers.

Live Plant Shipping Table

Spring Fall Age/Size
Dormant Bare Roots
April/May October 2 years

Dioscorea villosa - Wild Yam

Map Key

Present in state
Present but introduced in county
Present and native in county; not rare
Not present in state
Present and native in county; rare
Species extirpated (historic)
State or county listed as noxious
Present in state; exotic

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

6 Questions asked on Dioscorea villosa

Interested in using this plant for green fencing; what does this plant look like in the winter in Ohio? In other words, does it die back completely? Thanks!
Hi K, it does die back completely each winter.
I realize that nothing is deer proof, but is Dioscorea villosa deer resistant?
Hi Judith, All our Wild Yam is grown behind a deer fence, so we haven’t tested out if deer tend to leave it alone or not. With that said, according to, “There is very little information about floral-faunal relationships for this species. The foliage appears to be avoided as a food source by mammalian herbivores.”

So I guess the short answer is we don’t know, but probably?

I’ve ordered three bare roots from you. It is middle of April. What can I expect these to do this year, as far as length of vine? And how quickly do they grow? Desperately trying to create a small, private area on our property!
Hi Erin,

I wouldn’t consider Wild Yam a very fast-growing vine. And your bare roots will be just a few years old so give them a few more years to really mature. In the Prairie Moon gardens (where the photo was taken), growth seems slow at the beginning of the season. However, later on as they days are long and temps very warm, the growth rate picks up and then multiple vines will fill out a trellis by the end of the summer.

How aggressive is this vine? Will it take over an area or will I be forever digging up new plants?
Hi Amanda. The Wild Yam is very well-behaved. It won't aggressively spread by root or seed.
If this dies back completely should it be pruned back to the ground in the fall or spring?
We do it in the Spring, but it is up to you.
Will wild yam grow in clay soil?
HI Sarah. Yes, moderate clay should be no problem. Our area of SE MN has a lot of clay and it grows very well here.


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Partial, Shade
Soil Moisture
Medium-Wet, Medium
up to 15 ft
Bloom Time
June, July
Bloom Color
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code