Malagasy wild yam makes it to the Top 10 of the IISE


The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University, and an international committee of taxonomists, announced the top 10 new species described in 2009.

Among them is a threatened, wild, edible yam from Madagascar - Dioscorea orangeana - described as an "udderly weird yam", due to its uncharacteristic tuber morphology, exhibiting several digitate lobes, instead of just one.

In a press release published by Kew, botanist Paul Wilkin stated that the species "was discovered and described by an international team of collaborating yam researchers based at Kew and in Madagascar and France. The first collections of the species made by botanists in the 1960s were incomplete; it was not until the last few years that new specimens and photographs collected by the yam team and others showed definitively it was a new element of the extraordinary biodiversity of Madagascar".

Top 10 winners were selected by an international committee of taxon experts, who chose the species on the basis of “records” (largest, smallest, etc.), “superlatives” (most, first, last, etc.), humorous or interesting names, surprising characters, properties or distributions.

More information on Dioscorea orangeana can be obtained by visiting the species' factsheet on the website of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew.

Nominations are now open for the 2011 list – for species described in 2010 – and can be submitted online at http://species.asu.edu/species-nomination until 15 March 2011.