The yam bean is a climber with alternate, three-parted leaves and a turnip-like root.
The beautiful pale flowers are pealike in shape. While they are climbers, Yam Beans are a bit lazy and will just spread all over the ground if not encouraged to climb.
As herbaceous perennials, they do well in frost free areas as we have found that only one or two cold days in winter will knock them back, not to return until next spring.
Yam Bean plants seem slow to start from seed but once they begin they continue strongly.
They are farmed in many countries as a staple food and have found their way into many Australian restaurants as a delicacy.
Taste-wise, they are wonderful, with a nutty, apple-like flavour.
Raw or steamed, sliced or shredded the tubers really enhance a meal.
The beans or seeds are also very useful (and very toxic) as an insect spray for the garden when you don’t want to use commercially prepared insecticides.
The seeds themselves are poisonous if ingested so caution is advised.