Edith Sherwood Ph.D. and Erica Sherwood

The Voynich Botanical Plants

Folio 17v Back to Plant List
folio 17v

Folio 17v, Yams (Dioscorea), are tubers from a perennial, herbaceous vine, first cultivated in Africa and Asia, and are a staple part of the diet of the people of West Africa. The name yam comes from the Portuguese “inhame” which was derived from the Wolof word “nyam.” During the 14th century, the Portuguese, under the direction of Henry the Navigator, began exploring the African coastline, and it may have been at this time that yams were introduced into the Mediterranean region, along with African slaves. The W.P. Armstrong Web site shows a photograph of a yam leaf with “wings” similar to those on the leaves of the vine in folio 17v.

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