elephant's-foot

elephant's-foot

[el-uh-fuhnts-foot]
noun, plural elephant's-foots.
a climbing vine, Dioscorea elephantipes, of southern Africa, having a massive, edible, yamlike tuber.


Origin:
1810–20

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Collins
World English Dictionary
elephant's-foot or elephant foot
 
n
a monocotyledonous plant, Testudinaria elephantipes, of southern Africa, with a very large starchy tuberous stem, covered in corky scales: family Dioscoreaceae
 
elephant foot or elephant foot
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

elephant's-foot

an odd-looking twining plant of the yam family (Dioscoreaceae), characterized by a large, woody, and partially exposed tuber. It is native to semiarid areas in southern Africa. The tubercle-covered tuber, resembling an elephant's foot or a tortoise shell, once served as a food for local peoples during famine (hence the name "Hottentot bread"). The tuber can reach up to 1 m (3 feet) in diameter, and specimens weighing several hundred pounds have been reported. From such a root stock each year emerge thin climbing stems with small leaves. The plant is grown in desert gardens and conservatories as a curiosity.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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