Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. I pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Traditional Names : Kayawal (Language- Kunwinjku : People of- Manmoyi, West Arnhem Land)


Other common names are native yam (1 of 2 types named native yam in Australia), small yam and pencil yam (not be be confused with Vigna lanceolata, as it shares the same common name of pencil yam). It's natural distribution includes areas of NSW, QLD, NT and WA .... Dioscorea transversa distribution map.

This is a very attractive vine which produces a thin long edible tuber. It has separate male and female plants which produce fragrant green flowers and 3 lobed papery seed capsules on the female vine. The tuber has been described as crispy and tasty and can be eaten raw or cooked.

I'm currently growing a few vines in my Davidson's Plum garden for future seed distribution to all, however in the meantime, I found Kumbartcho Native Nursery to have a good supply of Dioscorea transversa seedlings.

If you are after the tubers, it has been suggested to grow these vines in a large pot with some added climbing structure, as the tubers can dig themselves deep into the ground and prove difficult to extract.

The following youtube music video Bush Food Is Really Really Good shows a long yam being pulled out of the ground by enthusiastic children at 51 seconds (the whole video/song is great and cute to watch and listen to).

It is also reported to have a low GI value (GI 37) as per the following article - and has been described as a traditional medical plant used by Australian Aborigines with known antidiabetic activity. I believe there is a traditional skin cancer treatment use with this plant.

Some links ...

Toowoomba Plants

antidiabetic_plants - Small reference on page e-page 268

Useful Tropical Plants

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks Rob. And thanks for my plants :) I really must strive to find the right spot for them. One currently in one of the raised beds but it sounds like all 3 need to be planted together to increase the likelihood of getting a male and a female. If it would rain and soften the ground I could get them in the general bed.

Loved the video of the kids :D

Had a quick look at the above articles, great info, have booked marked so I don't forget where they were - need to have a thorough read

Hi, I finally put together the native yam harvest video.

Verdict... They taste great!

Great to see the diggings, Rob.  Do you think it would grow with that small piece or would you have to plant young white tubers.  Twelve months for a crop is a long time for a backyard but you can understand how the indigenous people would find these growing in different locations and times, and they would always replant or leave some for later.

The time from seed sowing may take longer to get an edible tuber.  It would be nice to have an acreage and just let them multiply for later.

Thanks Christa, The yam grew again from the yam I put back in the pot. (the one seen at 6:10 in video). I have the intention to grow this yearly as the bounty tastes real nice, like water chestnuts. 


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Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

GrowVetiver is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.

Place your business add here! ($5 per month or $25 for 9 months)

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