Are yams the same thing as sweet potatoes?
Technically, they are not the same thing. Yams belong to the genus Dioscorea and are not even in the same family as sweet potatoes (Ipomoea). True yams are starchy tubers grown in tropical climates. They are not grown in the United States. However, sweet potatoes are often called yams, and the terms are commonly used interchangeably. The USDA requires that the term "yam" always be accompanied by the term "sweet potato."