Ipomoea batatas (Sweet Potato)
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> Euasterid I > Order: Solanales > Family: Convolvulaceae > Genus: Ipomoea
Sweet potatoes fall within the same genus as
Morning Glory and originate from Central and South America where they were
already being cultivated by 2500 BC.
Sweet Potato originates from Central and South America but
the wild species it originates from has not been fully resolved. Its cultivation
as a vegetable in South and Central America goes back to about 2500 BC. It was brought back to Europe by Columbus on his
first voyage to the New World and entered cultivation in Spain soon afterwards.
By 1600 Sweet Potatoes were being grown in England. There is great confusion
about how and when Sweet Potatoes came to be cultivated on the Pacific Islands
in Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia. Their use on these islands seems to
pre-date their possible introduction by European explorers but how this came
about has not been fully resolved.
The tubers of Sweet Potato are eaten cooked as a vegetable. They contain
3-6% sugar which is increased at warm temperatures and through the early stages
of the cooking process through the enzymatic breakdown of starch to glucose.
There are more calories, minerals and vitamin A in sweet potato than ordinary
potatoes but the latter have more protein.
Sweet Potatoes are often confused with Yams the latter of
which fall in the genus Dioscorea.
Acid-producing, nitrogen-fixing bacteria that are found in roots, stems and
tubers of Sweet potato plants.
Sauer, J.D. 1993. Historical geography of
crop plants - a select roster. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.