Singkamas/Yam Bean | A Toxic Vine With Edible Taproot

I love eating singkamas. A singkamas that has been aged for about a week or two. It has a property similar to yacon, blunt taste at harvest time, sweet taste after over ten days.

Its expected shelf life is one to two months under ambient temperature and dry storage condition. Go and age that singkamas before munching.

singkamas yam bean jicama

Singkamas or yam bean is rich in vitamins and minerals and almost no carbohydrates – good for dieting. Known to prevent heart diseases. Rich in dietary fiber, low sodium content and a rich source of potassium.

Other plant parts are poisonous however. Matured seed is poisonous, the rest of the plant except the edible taproot is toxic. It contains retenone, a poison found in other plants like barbasco, tuba plant, jewel vine and duboisia. It is classified by World Health Organization, WHO, as mildly hazardous. Less likely to cause poisoning cause the irritating property makes one vomit. The lethal dose when ingested intentionally is 143 mg per kg body weight.

Yam bean seed poisoning is somewhat similar to cyanide intoxication showing signs such as periodical numbness, nausea, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, loss of consciousness  and death if not given attention immediately.

Yam bean seed is a popular insecticide. According to oisat.org – 500 grams seeds are ground and soaked in 20 liters water for one to two days. Applied on plants in early morning or late afternoon. It’s effective against aphids, flea beetles, stink bugs and leaf eating caterpillar. Also been used for killing animal parasites,reducing fish population and poison fishing – pagtutuba ng ilog .


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2 Comments

  • Sorry for misunderstanding your post earlier. Please disregard my comment re “yam/kamote”. From re-reading the post, I now realize you meant the singkamas is also called the YAM BEAN vine.. I thought you were talking about yam, the root crop.
    By the way, are there significant differences between sweet potato and yam, besides the texture and sometimes the color?

  • There’s another part of the singkamas vine that is edible…it is the young, tender pods of the vine which Ilokanos love to include in dinengdeng, after mashing them in coarse salt to remove the “hairy” covering . And if the pods are a little bit tougher and more mature, one taps the edges of the pod with the blunt side of the knife a few times, holding the pod upright, to “soften” it. At least that’s how I learned to cook them from my Lola.
    I also observed that the root crop stays fresher longer when not stored in the refrigerator where perhaps the extra moisture makes their skin slimy and moldy after a few days.
    Regarding yam, isn’t that root crop more like the sweet potato or kamote? We consume tops/sprouts from both yam and sweet potato plants from our home garden and have not had any adverse effects.

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