Agricultural Knowledge from the Friendliest Island in the Caribbean

Yam Varieties in Grenada

Yam Varieties in Grenada

Yams (Dioscorea spp.) are an important staple crop in the tropics and Grenada is no exception. On the island a variety of yam species and cultivars are grown. Multiple varieties are seen for sale at roadside produce stands in yam season, which runs from December through May during the vines dormant season. This post is an ongoing list of yam varieties in Grenada.

Bush Yam (Tuttle)

A common staple of Grenadians in rural areas is the “bush yam,” which is known as the “water yam” or “winged yam” in other regions. The bush yam is an unimproved form of Dioscorea alata. All wild specimens we have seen are white in flesh colour, often with a little pink. When they’re overlarge, they can get yellow but these are not preferred. Tubers can get quite large and the species is spread both through seeds and aerial bulbils born on the vines. When they’re overlarge, they can get yellow but these are not preferred. Bush yams are also propagated by cutting tubers into pieces, dipping the pieces into ash, then planting them.

Lisbon Yam

The “Lisbon yam” on Grenada appears to be an improved form of D. alata. The tubers are smooth and potato-shaped with fine, dense white flesh lacking the grainier texture of their wild cousins.

We did not see this cultivar produce any bulbils in its first year. It is usually propagated by cutting off the head of the yam and replanting it – the rest of the root is consumed or sold at market.

This has a small head and plenty of flesh right through – the whole yam is food.

CushCush Yam

A purple yam, probably D. alata. Color of the vines has red in them.


Has a large root with a lot of legs. There is a red and a white and a purple version. Seems to be D. alata.

Pictured yam is the variety containing some red colouration. Note the emerging red-purple shoot. Photo taken April 21.

Fancy Yam

This is a sweet yam that bears in a big bunch. Smaller yams than Moonshine with tender skin. Prickly vines. Also known as “potato yam,” “sweet yam,” and “lesser yam,” this yam is known in Latin as Dioscorea esculenta.

Notice how all the little yams gather around the centre.

Each one of those subsidiary roots can be detached and planted to start a new yam.

The fancy yam has tender skin and can be steamed and eaten without peeling.

Air Potato Yam

Early Yam/Prickly Yam

This one springs up early and can bear twice a year. These roots are a harvest from the second cutting. Photo taken April 21st.

The first harvest of roots takes place in August. The prickly yam is carefully dug from one side without disrupting the net of roots emerging from the yam’s head and the main root is cut off and can then be cooked or sold. The yam will then grow a second, smaller root as seen in the photos.

These roots can be further divided and propagated from the pieces. The early yam sprouts at least a month earlier than other yam species, often emerging in March.

Atuta (another Prickly Yam)

This is a bitter yam with yellow flesh. A very nice yam for soup.

Oriental Yam

Grows similar to the Lisbon, with white flesh and a long root.

2 thoughts on “Yam Varieties in Grenada”

  • I am currently writing a book on yams and I would like to quote from your article and also use some of the photographs. I did work at UWI in Trinidad in the 1960s and did some work in Granada with Arnold Cruickshank at that time. I later worked on restructuring he banana industry in the 1970s and visited Granada briefly at that time. Currently I am mainly working with a university in Thailand.

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