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Climber Wall ShrubConservatory Greenhouse

Dioscorea elephantipes
  • RHS AGM

elephant's foot

A deciduous climbing perennial growing from a large, partly exposed, rugged woody tuber, with heart-shaped blue-green leaves and racemes of tiny yellow flowers

Other common names
tortoise plant
Synonyms
Testudinaria elephantipes

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Size
Ultimate height
0.5–1 metres
Time to ultimate height
5–10 years
Ultimate spread
0.5–1 metres
Growing conditions
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Blue Green
Summer Green Yellow Blue Green
Autumn Blue Green
Winter
Position
  • Full sun
Aspect

South–facing or East–facing

Exposure
Sheltered
Hardiness
H1C
Botanical details
Family
Dioscoreaceae
Native to the UK
No
Foliage
Deciduous
Habit
Climbing
Potentially harmful
TOXIC if eaten, skin irritant. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling Pets (dogs): TOXIC if eaten, skin irritant - see the HTA guide to potentially harmful plants for further information and useful contact numbers
Genus

Dioscorea can be evergreen or deciduous, twining perennials with tuberous roots and simple or palmate leaves and small bell-shaped greenish or yellow flowers in racemes from the leaf axils

Name status

Correct

Plant range
South Africa

How to grow

Cultivation

Under glass grow in gritty, very well-draining potting compost mulched with grit in full light. Water moderately when in growth and apply a balanced liquid fertiliser every two or three weeks; keep completely dry in winter. Suitable for a desert garden

Propagation

Propagate by seed at 19 to 24°C in spring or take softwood cuttings as young shoots arise from the tuber in spring

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Patio and container plants
Pruning

Pruning group 11 in spring

Pests

May be susceptible to aphids and froghoppers

Diseases

Generally disease-free

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