Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website

Dioscorea pyrifolia


Dioscorea pyrifolia

Family Name: Dioscoreaceae
Synonyms: Dioscorea diepenhorstiana, Dioscorea preangeriana
Common Name: Akar Kemenyan Paya


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Monocotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Climber, Vine & Liana
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic


Native Distribution East Asia
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Least Concern (LC))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a perennial, climbing plant with slender stems up to 10 m long. There are covering of hairs present on vegetative shoots and inflorescences. 
Roots Tuberous. 
Foliage Leaves are oppositely arranged along the stems, leathery, ovate to cordate in shape, measuring 6 - 10 cm long, pubescent on the underside of leaves, and has petiole of 2 - 5 cm long. 
Stems Stem is 2.5 - 5 mm in diameter, woody and spiny towards the base, and terete (slender) on the upper stem.
Flowers Inflorescence, with male and female flowers. Male spikes are 30 cm or longer while female spikes are only 10 cm long. 
Fruit Capsule, measuring 17 - 25 mm by 35 - 50 mm. Seeds are about 5 by 5 mm, and winged, measuring 20 - 22.5 mm by 19 - 22 mm.
Habitat It is commonly found in the lowlands, among hedges and thickets. 
Etymology The genus Dioscorea is named after Dioscorides Pedanios of Anazarbeus, a Greek military physician for yams.  The specific epithet pyrifolia means having leaves similar to those of pear. 
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Roots
Medicinal: In Malaysia, the raw tubers are used in traditional medicine for swellings and bites. 
Timber & Products: The stems are used in Indonesia for making cords and furniture (from hard fibre).
Others: The tuberous roots are said to be edible and gathered from the wild for consumption. 

Landscaping Features

Landscape Uses General, Trellis / Arbour / Pergola

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Rootzone Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Propagation Method Storage Organ


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Papery
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Opposite
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate, Cordate)
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acuminate
Foliar Base Rounded / Obtuse, Cordate, Sagittate

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Unisexual Flowers
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Inflorescence Type Spike

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Fruit Type Indehiscent Dry Fruit , Capsule

Image Repository



Master ID 33019
Species ID 7433
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 20 August 2021.