Chinese Yam

chinese yam

(Dioscorea oppositifolia)
*Detected in Michigan*

Report this species to:

Susannah Iott, MDARD Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division, 517-420-0473.

If possible, please take one or more photos of the invasive species you are reporting. Also make note of the location, date and time of the observation. This will aid in verification of your report. You may be asked to provide your name and contact information if follow-up is needed.

- Or - use the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) online reporting tool

- Or - download the MISIN smartphone app and report from your phone -



  • Pointed, heart-shaped leaves that are often indented on the sides, opposite or alternate
  • Slender vines that spiral counter-clockwise
  • Bulbils or air tubers present from June to September, resemble very small potatoes
  • Small white or greenish-yellow spikes of flowers that smell similar to cinnamon

chinese yam
Troy Evans, Great Smoky Mountains National Park,

chinese yam
Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, - Chinese yam "air potato"

chinese yam
Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan,

Habitat: This deciduous vine can be found along roadsides, fence rows, stream banks, ditches, and rich, mesic forests. While it tolerates anything from full sun to deep shade, it prefers intermediate light.

Native Range: Asia

U.S. Distribution: Chinese yam has spread to 16 southeastern states since its introduction in the 1800’s and has been recorded in some locations in Michigan.

Local Concern: Chinese yam can grow up to 16 feet in height, engulfing surrounding vegetation along the way. While this vine dies back in the winter, it grows and reproduces quickly enough to reduce plant diversity and threaten native ecosystems.

Other Common Names: Cinnamon vine, air potato

Native look-alikes and how you can tell them apart from Chinese yam:

  • Native Yam: Vines spiral clockwise, no aerial tubers
  • Greenbrier: Lacks bulbils, has blue/purple berries
  • Field bindweed: Lacks aerial tubers


Chinese Yam Invasive Species Alert - Printable PDF