Elephant foot yam or white spot giant arum or stink lily is botanically called the Amorphophallus paeoniifolius. This is a tropical tuber crop that offers excellent scope for adoption in the tropical countries as a cash crop due to its production potential and popularity as a vegetable in various delicious cuisines.
Elephant foot yam is basically originated from the Southeast Asia as a crop and grows in wild form in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian countries. In India it is grown mostly in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa and is popularly known as Jimmikand, Suran and Chenna.
The botanical name Amorphophallu is derived from the ancient Greek word Amorphos which means “without form or misshapen” and phallus, “penis” referring to the shape of the prominent spadix is a large genus of some 170 tropical and subtropical tuberous herbaceous plants from the Arum (Araceae) familuy.
A few species of these are edible and are the famine foods. The elephant yam is an edible tuber most widely consumed mainly in the tropical regions. This tuber is called elephant yam because the plant that it is derived from is quite huge and resembles the foot of an elephant to a great extent.
Therefore, some of the other synonyms for the elephant yam are elephant foot yam, sweet yam and elephant bread. The highest consumption of the elephant yam is in Africa, and some Asian countries like India. Although in the United States sweet potatoes are often mistaken for the elephant yam, the two are actually quite different, since they belong to two completely different plant families.
This is a robust herbaceous plant, with an erect solitary stem usually 1-2.5 m in height and bearing at the top one or two tripartite leaves, each part of which is deeply dissected into numerous segments. Towards the end of the plant's cycle (usually 4-6 years) a large terminal inflorescence is produced, consisting of a short stalk and spathe and a spadix, which emits a malodorous smell, reminiscent of rotten meat.
The corms are large globose depressed tubers, usually dull-yellow or brownish-yellow in color, and these produce 5-10 cormels at the end of each growing season. The corms are dug by hand when the leaves begin to wither and die, and weigh from 3 to 9 kg, depending upon the number of growing seasons.
The genus Amorphophallus consists of about 90 species, but the most important and widespread in the tropics is Amorphophallus paeoniifolius (Dennst.) Nicolson (syn. A. campanulatus Decne) and according to some authorities this exists in two forms, the wild one, recognizable by its rough petioles, while the cultivated form has much smoother petioles.
In India, a variety of dishes are made with this tuber vegetable like kandagadda pulusu (Yam cooked in tamarind sauce), yam fry or chips. The corms and cormels of A. paeoniifolius are usually boiled or baked and eaten as a vegetable: in Japan A.konjac is mainly eaten as konnyaku, a gel-like food with an elastic texture made from konjac mannan flour. The small one year old corms of A.
konjac are considered to be a delicacy. Wild forms must be soaked in water for some time before cooking, and boiled for a lengthy period in order to remove the bitterness. In India, yams are eaten only as a supplement to cereals. The main edible species in India (especially South India) is the elephant foot yam. Each vegetable offers varied health benefits and has different culinary uses.
Elephant yam too has some useful health benefits like the root is carminative, restorative, stomachic and tonic. It is dried and used in the treatment of piles and dysentery, the fresh root acts as an acrid stimulant and expectorant. It is much use in our country in the treatment of acute rheumatism.
Yam is considered to be a healthy low-fat food and is a rich source of essential fatty acids (Omega-3 fatty acids) which are known to increase the good cholesterol levels in the blood. Eating elephant yam helps in increasing the estrogen levels in women’s bodies, thus helping in maintaining the hormonal balance.
It is also high in vitamin B6. Consuming vitamin B6 provides relief from pre-menstrual syndrome in women. It is a natural product that is high in fiber. So it can be used as slimming food because it lowers cholesterol levels and promotes weight loss and also has a high concentration of key minerals.
It is loaded with potassium, magnesium and phosphorous, as well as with trace minerals like selenium, zinc and copper. The nutritional values of the edible portion of the elephant yam (A. paeoniifolius) are:
Energy 330 kJ/100 g (approx)
Water 72-79 %
Protein: 1.7-5.1 %
Fat: 0.2-0.4 %
Carbohydrate: 18-24 %
Fibre: 0.8 %
Calcium: 50-56 mg/100 g
Iron: 0.6-1.4 mg/100 g
Phosphorus: 20-53 mg/100 g
Vitamin A: 434 IU/100 g.