Sweet Potatoes vs. Yams

Sweet potatoes are often mistaken for yams. This began decades ago. Some say it was when the soft varieties of sweet potatoes were first introduced and some say it was when orange fleshed sweet potatoes were introduced. Which ever it was, to distinguish them from each other, producers began to call the new variety yams. This was an English translation of the African word, ‘nyami’. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture now requires sweet potatoes and yams to be labeled in the market, here are a few differences to know about. (Similar characteristics are in italics, while differences are not.)


Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas)

Angiosperm (flowering plant)

Dicot (having two embryonic seed leaves)

From the Convolvulacea family

Flesh color ranges from white, to yellow, orange and even purple

Left: Sweet potato, Right: Yam

Left: Sweet potato, Right: Yam


Angiosperm (flowering plant)

Monocot (having one embryonic seed leaf)

From the Dioscoreaceae family

Starchier and dryer than sweet potatoes

Almost black, bark-like skin


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One Response to Sweet Potatoes vs. Yams

  1. Pingback: Get Set!! Spring is around the corner | bunchofcilantro

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