Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes

Ipomoea batatas or Sweet Potato is a vine from the Convolvulaceae family.

It is the only one in this family that has any significance as a crop.

If it finds support, it will climb by winding itself around the support. If it doesn’t find support, it will grow rampant or hanging.

This is a fun and inexpensive plant to experiment with: you can find it very cheaply in most supermarkets and exotic grocery stores and the plant is lush and grows very fast.

Should not be confused with yam, which is an entirely different species (Dioscorea)

Description:

Ipomoea batatas can be 6 m long when climbing, 50 cm high when creeping.

The leaves are green, alternate and heart-shaped or palmate lobed.

The flowers are trumpet shaped as in most species from this family, white and purple.

The thick tuber is edible. The pink variety is softer and sweeter, the white variety is firmer and less sweet.

Use:

Ornamental
Crop: the tuber is eaten cooked in water like ordinary potatoes, grilled or fried. The leaves and shoots are cooked and resemble spinach.

Nomenclatuur:

Common names:

Kumara, Sweet potato
Yam (USA and Canada): is not correct, the actual yam is from the family Dioscoreaceae

Synonyms:

Aniseia martinicensis var. nitens, Batatas edulis, Batatas edulis var. porphyrorhiza, Convolvulus apiculata, Convolvulus attenuatus, Convolvulus batatas, Convolvulus candicans, Convolvulus denticulatus, Convolvulus edulis,  Convolvulus esculentus, Convolvulus hederaceus, Convolvulus tuberosus, Convolvulus variabilis, Convolvulus varius, Ipomoea batatas fo. trifida, Ipomoea batatas var. edulis, Ipomoea batatas var. lobata, Ipomoea confertiflora, Ipomoea davidsoniae, Ipomoea denticulata, Ipomoea edulis, Ipomoea fastigiata, Ipomoea indica var. variabilis, Ipomoea mucronata, Ipomoea purpusii, Ipomoea setifera, Ipomoea triloba, Ipomoea variabilis, Ipomoea vulsa, Ipomoea wallii
NB: Ipomoea batata is not a synonym but a misspelling

Etymology:

Ipomoea: from the Greek ips (bindweed) and omoios (looking like)
Batatas: Taino name for sweet potato

Origin:

Tropical regions of South America



Habitat:

In cultivation

Hardiness:

USDA zone 9-11

Ipomoea batatas plant and flowers

Ipomoea batatas

Care:

Soil:

Rich

Exposure:

Sun, partial shade

Water:

Needs a lot of water during summer

Harvest:

After the summer, when the leaves turn yellow

Propagation:

Tuber.

Simply plant pieces of the tuber or even a whole tuber in soil, water and within a week the first sprout should appear.

Image sources

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