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Plant Know-How: Dioscorea elephantipes

Dioscorea elephantipes
Dioscorea elephantipes is one of the most interesting plants you can grow in your home. Dioscorea elephantipes is a caudiciform native to South Africa where it grows in very arid conditions. Caudiciforms are types of plants that grow a caudex, which is a fat trunk or stem which grows above the ground. This fat trunk helps the plant to retain water for long periods of drought. A young Dioscorea elephantipes will have a small, bulb-like caudex, but given time this caudex can grow to very large sizes and will become deeply ribbed. Dioscorea elephantipes is often compared to an elephant's foot or tortoise shell because of its uniquely texture caudex. Along with its unique growth habit Dioscorea elephantipes also requires some very unique care. If you're up for the challenge Dioscorea elephantipes will reward you with long green vines and an amazing architectural cuaudex.


Light: Dioscorea elephantipes does best in bright indirect light to direct sun indoors. If you're growing your plant outdoors partial shade is best.

Water: When your plant is actively growing, meaning when it is producing vines and leaves, be sure to water thoroughly when the soil has gone completely dry. Dioscorea elephantipes goes through a period of dormancy for a few months each year. You'll know your plant has gone dormant when the vine dries up and the leaves turn yellow and drop off. When your plant is dormant reduce watering significantly and keep your plant somewhere cool and dry. When your plant comes out of dormancy you will see new green shoots begin to appear, at this point move your plant back to a bright spot and begin watering again!

Did you know? Dioscorea elephantipes is a member of the yam family!

Want to try your hand at growing this incredibly unique plant? We have 4" Dioscorea elephantipes available in-store!