Apparently, they're not even related according to this Huffington Post article!
And apparently, the U.S. government has perpetuated this confusion. Here is a summary of the differences:
- Come in 2 varieties here in the U.S. One has a golden skin with creamy white flesh and crumbly texture; the other has a copper skin with orange flesh that is sweet and soft.
- All are basically the same shape and size with tapered ends; they're generally much smaller than yams.
- The USDA labels the orange-fleshed ones as "yams" to distinguish them from the white fleshed variety even though they're not really yams!
- There are many varieties, but most have black bark-like skin and white, purple or reddish flesh.
- BTW, did you know that the word yam comes from an African word meaning "to eat?"
After reading the article, I've realized that I may have never had a yam . . .