Yams have served as staple foodstuffs in Africa for millenia, having been under cultivation for over 8000 years according to some authorities. There are dozens of species, but only a relative few are suitable for agriculture. Yams are members of family Dioscoreaceae and are all of the genus Dioscorea. Most of them are tropical, but there is one North American species, Dioscorea villosa, aptly called Wild Yam.
Whilst a staple in many tropical areas, yams are not eaten very much in the United States. What we call a yam is in almost all cases a sweet potato, not closely related to real yams. It gets even more interesting, since the sweet potato is not a potato at all! After the fold we shall discuss a different use for yams not involving food. Since today is 5/15, I though we might start with a bit of music of that name.