1) General Information:
- Location on property: Garden M, Ohia Camper, Below Kahuna Cabin
Scientific Name: Manihot esculenta (Also known as yuca, mogo, manioc, mandioca, kamoting kahoy, tapioca plant)
- Region of Origin: Native to South America
- Type: Edible
- General History: Cassava is a shrubby, tropical, perennial plant that is not well known in the temperate zone. For most people, cassava is most commonly associated with tapioca. The plant grows tall, sometimes reaching 15 feet, with leaves varying in shape and size. The edible parts are the tuberous root and leaves. The tuber (root) is somewhat dark brown in color and grows up to 2 feet long. Around the world, cassava is a vital staple for about 500 million people. Cassava’s starchy roots produce more food energy per unit of land than any other staple crop. Wild populations of M. esculenta subspecies flabellifolia, shown to be the progenitor of domesticated cassava, are centered in west-central Brazil, where it was likely first domesticated more than 10,000 years. By 6,600 BC, manioc pollen appears in the Gulf of Mexico lowlands, at the San Andrés archaeological site. The oldest direct evidence of cassava cultivation comes from a 1,400-year-old Maya site, Joya de Cerén, in El Salvador.
2) Plant Uses:
- As Food: Cassava-based dishes are widely consumed wherever the plant is cultivated; some have regional, national, or ethnic importance. Cassava must be cooked properly to detoxify it before it is eaten.
- Cassava can be cooked in various ways. The soft-boiled root has a delicate flavor and can replace boiled potatoes in many uses: as an accompaniment for meat dishes, or made into purées, dumplings, soups, stews, gravies, etc. Also, some households use this plant in cholent. Deep fried (after boiling or steaming), it can replace fried potatoes, with a distinctive flavor. In Brazil, detoxified manioc is ground and cooked to a dry, often hard or crunchy meal which is used as a condiment, toasted in butter, or eaten alone as a side dish.
- Cassava, when dried to a starchy, powdery (or pearly) extract is called tapioca, while its fermented, flaky version is named garri. In Indonesia, cassava is used in a variety of food products, the same way potatoes are used in the U.S. They can be used as vegetables in dishes, grated to make pancakes, dried and ground into tapioca flour, or sliced and made into snack chips. Since its leaves provide vitamins and protein, Cassava is commonly eaten as a vegetable in parts of Asia and Africa. Nutritionally, the cassava is comparable to potatoes, except that it has twice the fiber content and a higher level of potassium.
- As Medicine or Other Uses: In folk medicine, the cassava plant is promoted for treating snakebites, boils, diarrhea, flu, hernia, inflammation, conjunctivitis, sores, and several other problems including cancer. The Amerindians use the brown juice, obtained during processing, for burns. Cassava is used worldwide for animal feed, as well
3) Growing Instructions
- General: Full sun/light shade, sandy loam, should be constantly moist. Plant in frost free locations. Cassava thrives better in poor soils than any other major food plant. As a result, fertilization is rarely necessary. However, yields can be increased by planting cuttings on well-drained soil with adequate organic matter. Cassava is a heat-loving plant that requires a minimum temperature of 80 degrees F to grow. Since many cultivars are drought resistant, cassava can survive even during the dry season when the soil moisture is low, but humidity is high.
- Care: Grow in full sun to partial shade and moist, fertile soil. Set out plants in mid to late spring when warm temperatures arrive. Once temperatures climb to more than 70°F, plants will shoot up quickly. Provide plants with a slow-release fertilizer at the start of the season, and water as needed. Before the first frost, place plants indoors in a warm area under fluorescent lights until spring.
- Propagation: In midwinter, place two to three node stem cuttings flat on the soil surface. Transplant new shoots to their final containers when they reach 1 to 2 inches long.
- Difficulties with this plant: There is a bitter (poisonous) and a sweet (nonpoisonous) variety of cassava; however the skin stays poisonous and the sweet variety should be peeled.
- History of this Plant at Hedonisia: Unknown