Synonyms are C. edule Schott; C. merkusii (Hassk.) Schott; Apeveoa esculenta Moerenhaout.
Common names are Elephant Foot Yam, Giantarum, Sweet Yam (Eng.); Suran, Arsaghna, Balukund, Kidaran, Telinga Potato, Zaminkund (Ind.); Chena, Karak-kavanai (Mal.); IlisIlls, Kand Godda, Sooweg, Waloor (Indon.); Anto, Oroy, Pangapong, Tigi (Philipp.); Koe (Polyn.); Konjac, Konniaku (Jap.); Mo-yu (Chin.)
Cultivars are in selected regions of the local area.
Centre of origin and distribution is possibly Malaysia or Indonesia as it was being introduced into the Pacific Islands at an early date. Now widely distributed throughout Southeast Asia.
The Cocoyam is now widely distributed throughout the tropics and is grown commercially in Egypt. It has become an important food crop in the West Indies and Hawaii where many forms and varieties are widely cultivated. In West Africa, Cocoyams have a wider range of tolerance to the climate than species of Dioscorea and the crop is grown on an appreciable scale in southern and eastern Nigeria, Ghana and other West African countries.
Fertile, deep alluvial soils are required for optimum development; slightly acid conditions are preferable and heavy clay soils should be avoided. Good drainage is essential since the crop is sensitive to waterlogging. Liberal dressings of organic material, as well as moderate applications of nitrogen, phosphate and potash are recommended. A temperature range of 25-35 Celsius is required, without significant fluctuation. An evenly distributed rainfall of 1000-1500 mm is considered suitable for non- irrigated crops but corm development is promoted during dry periods. Most production occurs at altitudes below 1000 in.
Adapted to growing on a wide range of soil type in moist, shady situations, sometimes in swamps, and will tolerate brackish conditions. Areas of high rainfall and humidity are most suitable for the production of high yields.
The crop matures in 220-350 days from planting and the corms are excavated when the leaves become senescent. The corms have a dormancy period of 60-90 days. After 3 years of growth, the corms weigh 7-9 kg each and are considered marketable. Yields of 20 t/ha have been reported from India.
Most forms of Cocoyams mature in about 240-300 days from planting but the Eddoe matures in about 180-210 days. The tubers are lifted by hand; the main tuber is often harvested, leaving the smaller corms to develop later. Yield: Yields are variable, but may be in the region of 4-10 t/ha; in the Philippines, yields of 15 t/ha have been obtained.
They may lose up to 25% of their weight during the first month of storage but may be successfully stored for several months at 10 Celsius.
The corms of cultivars with smooth leaf stalks are used as a boiled vegetable; the calcium oxalate crystals present in the corms are removed by extensive boiling. The young petioles are also used as a cooked vegetable.