Description: Dioecious herbs with twining stems arising from tuber [axillary bulbils sometimes present].
Leaves usually simple, mostly alternate.
Male flowers with 6 stamens in 2 whorls, the inner 3 sometimes reduced to staminodes; vestigial ovary sometimes present. Female flowers sometimes with staminodes; ovary 3-locular; ovules usually 2 per loculus.
Fruit a papery 3-lobed capsule; seeds flat, winged.
Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 600 spp., chiefly trop. regions. Aust.: 5 spp. (2 spp. endemic, 1 sp. naturalized), Qld, N.S.W., N.T., W.A. Many species are cultivated in the tropics for their edible tubers.
Circumscription of families in the Dioscoreales has been challenged by the presence of saprophytic species lacking chlorophyll. Recent nuclear data supports the acceptance of Dioscoriaceae. In this respect the PlantNet circumscriptions differ from APG IV.
Text by G. J. Harden
|One species in NSW: Dioscorea transversa|