Common tamus: planting and care in open ground, application

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Common tamus: planting and care in open ground, application
Common tamus: planting and care in open ground, application

Characteristics of the tamus plant, how to plant and care in open ground, the secrets of reproduction, possible difficulties in growing, interesting notes and applications.

Common tamus (Tamus communis) is found in literary sources under the name Dioscorea communis. This plant is part of a genus bearing a similar name - Dioscorea, and a family with a similar root - Dioscoreaceae. Under natural conditions, this representative of the flora often grows in the territory of both southern and western European lands, on the North American continent and southwestern Asian territories. In Russia, there is an opportunity to meet tamus in the mountainous regions of the Crimea and the Caucasus, where dense forests are spread in the lower belt. The preference is often given to shrub thickets and forest edges.

The genus of tamus numbers from five to eight species. Moreover, most of them are characterized by medicinal properties. In culture, very few of them are often cultivated.

Family name Dioscorea
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Herbaceous, liana-like
Breeds Seeds and parts of rhizomes
Open ground transplant terms In the end of May
Landing rules Half a meter apart
Priming Well drained, preferably with an admixture of chalk and limestone on surfaces, and clayey
Soil acidity values, pH 6, 5-7 (neutral) or 7 and higher (limestone)
Illumination level Semi-shady place, if in an open and very bright place, then frequent watering will be required
Humidity level Regular moderate watering, weekly in dry times
Special care rules Tying of shoots and liming of the soil is recommended.
Height options About 5 m
Flowering period Late April to June
Type of inflorescences or flowers Racemose inflorescences
Color of flowers Yellowish white, yellow or greenish yellow
Fruit type Red globular berries
The timing of fruit ripening July to October
Decorative period Spring-autumn
Application in landscape design Greening of pillars of arbors and pergolas, balconies and other vertical garden structures, for hedges
USDA zone 5 and more

The name, both the genus and the family of these plants, was given thanks to Pedanius Deoscorides (40 AD - about 90 AD), a famous doctor from ancient Greece, who was also engaged in pharmacology and had a reputation as a naturalist. This ancient Greek healer became famous for his work "On Medicinal Substances", better known in Western European territory under the name "De materia". The work collected a large number of recipes used by healers until our time.

Tamus is mistakenly called "thamnus" because of the term which in Latin means "climbing plants". You can hear nicknames among the people: adam's root and water-distillation, crossing and lepshura-inaccessible, greasy or fiery root. Due to the fact that such a plant has medicinal properties, due to its Caucasian growth it is called "Caucasian ginseng".

It is a dioscorea ordinary perennial, with a herbaceous vegetation and liana-like climbing shoots. The woody stems in the lower part become grayish-brown, although at first their color is greenish, sometimes with a reddish undertone at the nodes. During the growing season, the length of tamus stems can reach 4–5 m. The stem itself is longitudinally striped, sometimes branched, glabrous, sinuous. If the plant is old, then about two dozen climbing shoots can form on it. Through the branches, real thickets are formed, while the shoots, rising high, attach to any ledge on a closely located support (bush, tree or structure).

The root of tamus in the form of a tuber is characterized by a rod-like shape and is distinguished by its fleshiness and sufficient thickness. The plant stores all the nutrients in it. The entire surface of the tuber is covered with root processes. The color of the root surface is dark brown or blackish brown. If you break the tuber, then a yellowish tint, reminiscent of oil, will appear at the break, which is why the plant is popularly called the "greasy root". The roots can be up to several meters in length, while their length will vary between 10-15 kg. However, only old specimens of Dioscorea can have such a rhizome weight.

The root of the common tamus is located underground at first in a horizontal plane, but as it grows with the help of root processes, it sinks into the substrate due to which its location takes an almost vertical direction.

On the shoots, the foliage is arranged in the next order. The leaf plates of the tamus take an elongated ovoid shape with a heart-shaped base and a pointed-elongated apex. The surface of the leaves is bare on the reverse side, and from above it is clearly visible, as if veins pressed into the leaf, directed in an arcuate manner. There are 3–9 veins. The deciduous mass is painted in a dark green shade, the leaves are shiny. The size of the leaf plate is 8–15 (-20) x 4–11 (-16) cm. The leaves are attached to the shoots with elongated petioles.

During flowering, which in common tamus falls on the period from the last week of April to the end of June, racemose inflorescences are formed, originating from the leaf axils. The plant is characterized by dioeciousness, that is, the formation of only male or female flowers is possible on one copy. The perianth of flowers is yellowish-white, yellow or greenish-yellow in color. When opened, the flowers reach 3-6 mm in diameter. The flower has three pairs of petals and its shape resembles an open star. The size of tamus flowers is very small and they are practically indistinguishable against the background of glossy large leaves. It is noteworthy that in male flowers the length exceeds the petiole of the leaf, female flowers have a simple shape and less than the length of the petiole of the leaf plate.

After the female flowers are pollinated, the fruits ripen, which take the usual form of berries from the tamus. Fruits are small, their shape is spherical. The color of the berries is a bright red hue, rarely takes on a yellowish color. The diameter is measured 10–12 mm. It is the fruits that decorate this liana-like plant. The berries are somewhat reminiscent of dogwood fruits. They are located in the leaf sinuses, collecting 3-5 pieces.

Inside the berry there is a spherical seed with a rather hard skin, which makes germination very difficult. This process can take 2–3 years in time. The pulp of common tamus surrounding the seed is characterized by stickiness, therefore, when the surface of the berry is damaged, the seeds, together with the inside of the fruit, stick to any surrounding objects, which contributes to their transfer. So such "postmen" can be bird feathers, animal hairs or fallen leaves.

When the seed material gets into the nutrient soil, the seeds, as it were, begin to "burrow" into the soil on their own, reaching a depth of 3-5 cm, due to the fact that their peel swells and shrivels.


Despite the external attractiveness, the fruits of the common tamus are poisonous and care should be taken when growing such a plant in a personal plot so that small children or pets do not have access to it.

During the winter period, the entire above-ground liana-like part of the tamus dies off, and only the root remains viable, giving rise to new shoots. Since frosts are not afraid of him, there is no need to cover such a plant for the winter period. At the same time, gardeners note the rare unpretentiousness of Dioscorea ordinary and a person who does not even have much experience in gardening can grow it.

Planting and caring for tamus, growing in the open field

Common tamus on the site
Common tamus on the site
  1. Landing place for this perennial vine, it is recommended to select well-lit, but it is preferable that shading is provided at noon, so the western side of the site is suitable. If the planting is carried out in an open and constantly illuminated location by the sun, then frequent soil moistening will be required. Also, do not plant tamus in places where there is a possibility of moisture stagnation from precipitation or melting of snow in spring, the plant will react poorly to the proximity of groundwater, as this provokes waterlogging of the soil and, as a result, the occurrence of rot.
  2. Soil for tamus it is recommended to select a nutritious and well-drained substrate, the recommended indicators of the acidity of the substrate pH 6, 5-7 (neutral) or 7 and higher (calcareous). It grows especially well on chalk and limestone surfaces as well as on clay substrates. Due to the very large tuber it should be avoided when planting shallow or waterlogged soil. Some gardeners mix the soil composition on their own from heather soil, humus and river sand, adding a little finely chopped pine bark to this. The volume of all parts of the components is taken the same, but the bark should be small so that the acidity of the soil does not drop.
  3. Landing tamus held at the end of May, when return frosts recede. It is recommended to lay a drainage layer in the hole to protect the root system from waterlogging, which can be coarse-grained river sand, fine expanded clay or crushed stone. It is recommended to maintain the distance between the holes at least half a meter, since liana tends to grow. After the seedling is set in the planting hole, all the voids around are filled with soil mixture and it is carefully squeezed out. Then abundant watering is carried out. To preserve the moisture content of the substrate, it is recommended to mulch its surface with river sand. This layer should be about 3-5 cm thick. After the planting of the tamus is carried out, a support is installed next to it, to which the garter of the stems is subsequently carried out. Such a support can be a decorative staircase or trellis, or a simple peg. There are gardeners who plant this perennial vine next to other tall plants (bushes or trees), but then it should be remembered that Dioscorea will twine its branches with its stems. At the same time, the root system of tamus will intertwine with the roots of its "carrier" over time and get them, then it will be extremely difficult to get them out of the soil, if necessary, transplant. If the growing conditions are comfortable, it will be possible to form dense thickets.
  4. Watering when growing tamus, it must be carried out especially carefully, since the soil must be constantly maintained in a moist state, but waterlogging must not be allowed. Watering should be done especially often in summer when hot and dry weather sets in. To prevent the soil from drying out too quickly on the surface, you should regularly mulch its surface under the bush. The choice of mulching material should be such that the acidity of the soil does not increase, such as, for example, sand acts. Sawdust or peat should not be used, as this will lead to a decrease in the pH of the soil.
  5. Fertilizers when caring for tamus, they are introduced from the beginning of spring to the end of the growing season. At the same time, you should not feed the plant with the arrival of autumn, as it must prepare for wintering, and excess nutrients can stimulate its growth and weaken its resistance to frost. It is recommended to make organic fertilizing in liquid form. These can be either self-made fertilizers or those produced by special manufacturers. In the first case, a solution of mullein or compost, tincture on ash, cut dandelions or weeds can act as top dressing. This biomass is placed in a container with water and brought to fermentation, then infused for several days. After the expiration date, the agent is diluted with water and the tamus bushes are watered. In the second case, you can use such purchased products as UAN (urea-ammonia mixture), as well as universal full mineral complexes Oracle or Uniflor. In any case, the bushes of Dioscorea vulgaris are fed every two weeks, combining this process with watering. Some gardeners argue that the plant does not need feeding as much as liming the soil, so occasionally they add dolomite flour, chalk or slaked lime.
  6. Tamus wintering. Since the plant is still not adapted to growing in our conditions, before frosts, it is worth mulching the root zone with fallen leaves or sawdust, and the bush itself (if cultivation is carried out in areas with severe frosts) to cover for the winter with agrofibre (for example, lutrasil), but in the middle lane, the plant is able to winter without shelter.
  7. Collection of tamus. Since the plant is characterized by medicinal properties, almost all of its parts are used, but mainly the roots. In rare cases, young leaves and seeds are harvested. The best period for harvesting is September, but the beginning of spring (March days) may also come up. Since the juice of Dioscorea vulgaris is poisonous and, if it gets on the skin, can provoke irritation that resembles a burn, the collection should be carried out with gloves. The same safety measures are applied when preparing biomass for drying, and then putting it into storage. The roots extracted from the soil are cut into thin plates and put to dry on a clean cloth in a shaded place with good ventilation - you can outdoors under a canopy. In order to avoid decay, such root strips must be periodically turned over. Do not lay out parts of the tamus for drying in direct sunlight, as this will reduce their medicinal value. Some people carry out drying of the dioscorea biomass in special dryers, keeping the temperature not too high. After the material is dried, and this can be checked by breaking parts of the roots or leaves, they should not bend, everything is folded for storage. Tamus can be wrapped in thick paper and placed on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator (such storage is possible for a long period). If a medicine is prepared on the basis of the material obtained, then it is poured into dark glass containers and stored in the dark and cool.
  8. The use of tamus in landscape design. The plant is characterized by creeping shoots and they require support. Therefore, Dioscorea is usually planted in such a place to provide the shoots with the opportunity to "climb" up. Such an arrangement can be a fence and its posts, posts or balusters of arbors, stairs, pergolas and arches. With the help of such bushes, it is even possible to form hedges.

Read also about planting and caring for pueraria in your garden.

Breeding secrets of common tamus

Common tamus in the ground
Common tamus in the ground

To grow a new perennial vine, sow seeds or grow seedlings from pieces of rhizomes.

Reproduction of tamus using seeds

Since the seeds are covered with a woody shell, which is characterized by a rather high strength, their germination is difficult. So in natural conditions, this process takes about 2-3 years, after the berries ripen and fall to the ground. To accelerate germination, the seed must be subjected to scarification - forced destruction of the shell. This is done by soaking the sowing material of tamus in sulfuric acid of 3% concentration for 2-3 hours. However, if you do not have experience with scarification, then it is better not to do it. You can use sandpaper and with such a cloth gently wipe the surface of the Dioscorea seeds, but here it is important not to touch the embryo.

If, nevertheless, the scarification of tamus seeds succeeded, then they proceed to sowing. The container is filled with universal soil, mixed in equal volumes with perlite, but you can use a peat-sandy composition or a purchased substrate for seedlings. Some gardeners use peat tablets when planting, where the seeds are placed, the subsequent planting will be easier.

Sowing is performed at the end of autumn. When sowing tamus seeds, the embedding should not be deeper than 3-4 cm. For successful germination, it is recommended to cover the container with the crops with a piece of glass or wrap it in plastic wrap, this will create greenhouse conditions with high humidity. The container is placed in a warm place with diffused lighting. The germination temperature is maintained within 20-24 degrees. When caring for the crops of Dioscorea, it is required to irrigate when the surface of the substrate begins to dry out (the main thing is not to overmoisten it). You will also need regular ventilation for 10-15 minutes a day. This will make it possible to remove condensate accumulated on the shelter. When about 20-30 days have passed, the first sprouts of tamus can be seen above the ground.


If the seedlings do not appear for quite a long time (this period was often extended to 6–9 months), it means that the germination agrotechnology was violated.

After the tamus seedlings rise above the soil, they begin to remove the shelter every day for a longer time, until they are completely removed. Seedlings require additional lighting so that young stems of the Adam's root do not stretch out. Only the ambassador of unfolding a pair of real leaves, seedlings can be dived - transplanted in separate pots, with the same soil as during germination. To make transplanting into open ground easier in the future, it is recommended to use pots made of pressed peat. Then young tamus are not pulled out of the container, but are installed directly in it in the landing hole.

Some gardeners are sowing seeds immediately at the planned place in the garden before winter.

Reproduction of tamus by parts of the rhizome

The beginning of autumn is suitable for this operation. The mother bush of the "fire root" is removed from the ground and the root system is divided into parts using a sharpened knife. The strips should not be small, as this will complicate the subsequent rooting. Each of the divisions can be planted either in a pot for keeping indoors or directly into a prepared hole. The size of such a planting fossa should slightly exceed the volume of the delen with root processes. After planting, abundant watering is required.

Possible difficulties when growing tamus in a personal plot

Common Tamus berries
Common Tamus berries

Since Dioscorea vulgaris contains in its parts a large amount of alkaloids with a bitter taste (for example, such as diosgenin), this is its natural defense against harmful insects. However, with increased dryness of the air, it can be affected by spider mites. This pest, piercing the leaves, sucks out nutritious juices, then the foliage acquires a yellow color and falls off. At the same time, a thin whitish cobweb is formed on the leaves and stems. If measures are not taken in time, then the entire tamus bush becomes covered, like a cocoon with such a formation.

For the fight, you can use folk methods in the early stages - spray with solutions based on garlic gruel or onion husks, as well as wormwood or laundry soap. If the damage is too severe, tamus should be treated with insecticides, such as Aktara or Actellik.

There is information that with high humidity of the environment and soil, there is a possibility of rot. In this case, parts of the plant can be covered with a whitish or grayish bloom. Then you need to carry out the treatment with fungicidal agents, among which Bordeaux liquid or Fundazol perfectly cope with the problem.

Interesting Notes on Tamus and Applications

Blooming Tamus common
Blooming Tamus common

Despite the fact that Dioscorea vulgaris is all poisonous, its medicinal properties have long been known to folk healers. On the basis of its fruits or cut rhizomes, preparations were prepared that were used for medical purposes, mainly externally. For this, parts of the tamus were poured with alcohol and insisted in a dark place for at least a month. When the specified time has passed, the tincture is ready for use and can relieve rheumatic pains. The same remedy is used for massages and rubbing of the skin in places where pain is localized. Such drugs are also recommended for the treatment of sciatica.

There is evidence that boiled young shoots of tamus are edible, but if consumed in large quantities, this can lead to intestinal upset and vomiting.

The name among the people of Dioscorea vulgaris is "fiery root" due to the fact that in its parts they are saturated with biologically active substances: pectins and urea, tannins and oils, acids and organic compounds. In addition, tamus contains such trace elements, through which the restoration of the soft and bone tissues of the body takes place. Medicines made on the basis of a plant have the following effect:

  • promotes the restoration of damaged tissues;
  • activates the work of local blood circulation;
  • renews mucous membranes;
  • make it possible to carry out anesthesia, heal wounds and give an anti-inflammatory effect;
  • help to strengthen the cardiovascular system.

In this case, decoctions from tamus are prescribed for compresses or poultices. To do this, use only freshly dug root of Dioscorea vulgaris or, in extreme cases, stored no more than 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Here are some recipes for potions made from this perennial vine:

  1. To relieve pain the chopped root (or whole) is steamed in boiling water, then wrapped in clean gauze folded in several layers or natural fabric and applied to the problem area.
  2. For the treatment of peptic ulcer disease or for pathologies of the respiratory tract tamus roots are thoroughly crushed (almost into gruel) and combined with equal volumes of honey and butter. This medication is taken orally 1 teaspoon before each meal.
  3. To remove warts or eliminate eczema, crushed tamus roots are combined with the same volume of boric ointment (concentration 3%) and thoroughly mixed until homogeneous. Problem areas on the skin must be often lubricated with this composition (as it is absorbed). To make the effect stronger, then hellebore powder is mixed into this preparation from tamus.

Since the plant is especially poisonous, there are a number of contraindications, namely:

  • children's age (up to five years);
  • any trimester of pregnancy and lactation;
  • individual intolerance to the drug made on the basis of the tamus plant by the patient;
  • the presence of oncology, regardless of which organ or place is affected.

At the same time, it is also important to note a number of side effects that may arise in the process of using funds made on the basis of tamus:

  • burn of the skin;
  • allergic reaction;
  • diarrhea or nausea;
  • irritation of the digestive system.


When you start taking drugs based on tamus, it is recommended to consult with your doctor and accurately determine the dosage and treatment protocol.

Related article: How to plant and care for toxicodendron in the open field

Video about the use of tamus and cultivation in open ground:

Photos of tamus:

Photo of Tamus ordinary 1
Photo of Tamus ordinary 1
Photo of Tamus ordinary 2
Photo of Tamus ordinary 2
Photo of Tamus ordinary 3
Photo of Tamus ordinary 3
Photo of Tamus ordinary 4
Photo of Tamus ordinary 4
Photo of Tamus ordinary 5
Photo of Tamus ordinary 5