The New Zealand Yam what is its real name

maeroeroJune 25, 2002

There is a small carrot coloured tubers we eat in NZ that we always called yams. I believe this not the correct name for them. I was told that Okra is the correct name but i believe this is alos incorrect.

I would love to know what the name is (then see where I could buy them in Australia) They seem to be easy to cultivate as we grew them in Southland which has a cool climate.

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Oca is the name, try it will give you all the info you need. Great site on all unusual crops of South America...Glenn

    Bookmark   June 26, 2002 at 2:00AM
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Hi maeroero,
Glen is right, Oca is the "proper" name for these plants, but they generally get called yams, anyway. Their latin name is Oxalis crenata. If you have any trouble tracking them down in Aussie, let me know and I'll post you a few - if your laws allow it!!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2002 at 4:49PM
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Okra can be called Lady Fingers it looks more like a tiny courgette/zucchini than a yam which is oxalis as Mutzi says.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2002 at 3:49PM
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Maeroero, Greenharvest have Oca for sale, 3 tubers for $4.50. There website is

    Bookmark   August 4, 2002 at 7:49AM
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okra, over here in the U.S, is an upright, single-stemmed plant with multiiple branches and yellow blossoms w/purple throats. it's a member of the hibiscus family, and the seed-heads which develop are harvested while yet still tender [under 3"], to be batter-fried or cut into stews and soups. it's an 'uncommon' flavor; but it's real purpose is the slick, slippery consistancy it imparts to southern gumbos and stews.

there's no accounting some tastes.

why try?


    Bookmark   August 7, 2002 at 10:56PM
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I am an X Kiwi living in aus for some 20years but I would love a fed of yams, we have searched every where for them even when I have been back they have been out of season. Now I will look for the proper name and see what I get.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2002 at 6:26AM
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Oxalis tuberosa is the correct botanic name for New Zealand Yam or Oca.

Abelmoschus esculentus (syn. Hibiscus esculentus)is the botanic name for Okra (aka Gumbo or Lady's Fingers)

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2002 at 12:25AM
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I have Kiwi yams (Oxalis Crenata) growing in my garden right now. I bought my first tubers from the organic fruit and veg section of the Victoria Market around April/May. I was told they were grown in Werribee. Cost from $17 - $22 a kilo!!!! but don't pay that for a feed. Just buy a few and plant in spring - they grow like Jerusalum Artichokes or weeds and are ready to harvest after the first cold snap. Leave a few in the ground or in the fridge over winter and ye shall have yams every year. Nothing like the first feed with a roast beef!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2002 at 12:54AM
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Then what is the Kumara?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2002 at 7:50PM
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Robert, the kumara is a sweet potato.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2002 at 12:32AM
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I too grow them down here in Melbourne, and find they are ideal to grow under mounded fruit trees. The only problem I have encountered is that birds seem to love digging them out.
Try markets in Autumn, or buy online at Gippsland seeds or Green Harvest.
Cheers Macca

    Bookmark   November 27, 2002 at 12:36AM
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If any one can send me yam seeds I would be indebted. Have'nt had a feed of yams for ages and have been wanting to see if they will grow in Western Australia. Would compliment our water-cress, kumera and puha.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2003 at 2:39AM
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Kumara is the orange skinned and orange fleshed sweet potato. There is also a sweet potato which has pinky red skin and white flesh. They taste different too. Is the second one also called yam?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2003 at 8:57AM
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Regarding Amelie's post; Kumara in New Zealand is in fact smaller with a very pale grey to slightly green flesh. It is very tasty and not as sweet as the orange one you describe.
I grew up in N.Z. and still much prefer the New Zealand variety. I dearly wish I could grow it here in Australia but have yet to come across it.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2003 at 6:51PM
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I'm excited to hear of Andean crops beside potato and quinoa being grown, eaten, and cherished away from the terraces of their homeland. Are there others?

I've become quite interested in Lupinus mutabilis, or tauri (or tarwi). Ill start a topic on it.

Brian Cady

    Bookmark   March 11, 2004 at 12:25AM
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Found a chapter about oca in Noel Vietmeyer's online free US gov't book on Andean crops.

Is this what they are like? How's the taste?

Brian Cady

Here is a link that might be useful: Click Here

    Bookmark   March 11, 2004 at 12:37AM
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thanx everyone for all the interesting replies. (keep mailing if you like)
I have followed up the various web links and found lots of interesting details about oca. The link to "Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation" was great, I am now wondering just how oca ended up in NZ. I never realised it had such an interesting background as it was and still is just a common vegetable. Certainly delicious roasted but I like boiling them like potatoes. Certainly it is a favourite of mine and many that mailed me. As yet to find any in Sydney, but will ensure I have a good feed next time I am in NZ

    Bookmark   March 21, 2004 at 5:24AM
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I put my Oka in a 5" pot last year, forgot to put them in the garden, and tipped them out last week. Some are remarkably small, but healthy enough to start a crop in the garden if someone wants a some little tubers in exchange, or for postage.
Cheers, Penny.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2004 at 12:20PM
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I to are an expat Kiwi, 11 years now, (hale from Dunedin)with a hankering for my sentimental favourate vegitable, the humble Yam,
Penny or anyone above can supply me with a tuber or two to get me started I would be much appreciated, please contact direct, or mobile 0439979113

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 10:09PM
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Shane - suggest you try directly on the actual Oz forums because the NZ one is rarely used.

You could also (perhaps) try through TradeMe, or Incredible Edibles as they may be able to legally send tubers/seeds through Oz Customs.

Yummy little items, aren't they?!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 4:44AM
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I'm Desperately Seeking some NZ Yams, or Oca - can anyone supply me with some tubers? I am in Byford, Perth, WA. 08 9526-2950 or

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 7:16AM
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