Manihot esculenta tubers

Manihot esculenta or manioc is a shrub that forms a thick edible tuber.

It is the 4th food crop, mainly for human consumption and to a lesser extent as a feed for animals.

It is now grown around the world in the tropics.

The root tuber, and especially the peel, contains a very toxic substance, hydrogen cyanide (HCN), which makes it important to peel the root tuber and wash the tuber and eat it only after a having cooked it thoroughly. The bulb has a very high starch content.

Leaves are consumed as spinach, after long cooking.


Manihot esculenta is a shrub or small tree up to 7 m high. The stem is up to 20 cm in diameter, with light brown to yellow-gray smooth bark.

The tubers grow in clumps of 4-8 at the base of the stem. They measure 2.5-10 cm in diameter and 20-40 cm in length although roots of nearly 1 m in length have been found. The interior is white, the bark is reddish brown and contains hydrogen cyanide (prussic acid) which is highly toxic.

The stems are slender, branching is dichotomous, often bluish-gray when young. They contain a whitish watery juice.

The leaves are up to 15 cm wide and 25 cm long, deeply cut into 3-7 inversely lance-shaped, elongated lobes, dark green above, paler bluish-green bottom, nearly hairless or slightly hairy near the midrib. The margin is entire. Petiole up to 25 cm long, often red-purple.

The inflorescence appears in loose terminal heads, 2-11 cm long. The flowers are unisexual in same inflorescence, green with orange-red hue, and often with purple veins.

The fruit is ellipsoid to subglobose, up to 17 × 15 mm, green, finely wrinkled, with six wings. The seeds are up to 12 mm long.

Manihot esculenta foliage


Common names:

Brazilian arrowroot, Cassava, cassave, imanoka, kasaba, katela boodin, maniba, manihot, mandioca, manioc, maniok, muk shue, shushu, sweet potato tree, tapioca, tapioka, yuca, yucca


Janipha aipi, Janipha manihot, Jatropha aipi, Jatropha diffusa, Jatropha digitiformis, Jatropha dulcis, Jatropha flabellifolia, Jatropha glauca, Jatropha janipha, Jatropha loureirii, Jatropha manihot, Jatropha mitis, Jatropha paniculata, Jatropha silvestris, Jatropha stipulata, Mandioca aipi, Mandioca dulcis, Mandioca utilissima, Manihot aipi, Manihot aipi var. lanceolata, Manihot aipi var. latifolia, Manihot aipi var. lutescens, Manihot diffusa, Manihot digitiformis, Manihot dulcis, Manihot dulcis var. aipi, Manihot dulcis var. diffusa, Manihot dulcis var. flabellifolia, Manihot edule, Manihot edulis, Manihot esculenta subsp. alboerecta, Manihot esculenta subsp. diffusa, Manihot esculenta subsp. flabellifolia, Manihot esculenta var. argentea, Manihot esculenta var. coalescens, Manihot esculenta var. communis, Manihot esculenta var. debilis, Manihot esculenta var. digitifolia, Manihot esculenta var. domingensis, Manihot esculenta var. fertilis, Manihot esculenta var. flavicaulis, Manihot esculenta var. fuscescens, Manihot esculenta var. grandifolia, Manihot esculenta var. hispaniolensis, Manihot esculenta var. jamaicensis, Manihot esculenta var. luteola, Manihot esculenta var. mutabilis, Manihot esculenta var. nodosa, Manihot esculenta var. pohlii, Manihot esculenta var. ramosissima, Manihot esculenta var. rufescens, Manihot esculenta var. sprucei, Manihot esculenta var. zimmermannii, Manihot flabellifolia, Manihot flexuosa, Manihot loureirii, Manihot manihot, Manihot melanobasis, Manihot palmata var. aipi, Manihot palmata var. diffusa, Manihot palmata var. digitiformis, Manihot palmata var. flabellifolia, Manihot sprucei, Manihot utilissima, Manihot utilissima var. castellana, Manihot utilissima var. sutinga


Manihot: from the Guaraní (Paraguay language)
Esculenta: from the Latin esculentus (edible)

Manihot esculenta plant


South America, now spread across the world in the tropics


In culture


USDA zone 9-11

Growth stops at 10 °C. The best production is obtained in warm and humid climate, average temperature of 25-27 °C and high rainfall.

Some varieties are hardy to USDA Zone 8.



Quite varied: from sandy clay to sand containing clay, moist and nutritious to poor soils.

The main element is that the soil is friable enough to allow the development of the tuber.






No fertilizer is required if planted on newly cleared land but is greedy and should be firmly fertilized afterwards.

Manihot esculenta fruit

Source: Tatters ❀

Manihot esculenta fruit


Seed, cuttings

Sowing instructions:

  • can be sown but the germination percentage is less than 50%
  • reserved for selection of new hybrids


  • take stem cuttings of 10-30 cm long
  • plant the stem cuttings vertically in the soil in humid regions with sufficient rainfall
  • plant the stem cuttings horizontally beneath the surface in drier areas
  • keep soil moist to avoid drying out of the cuttings