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Sweet potato


Convolvulaceae Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.

Source: Magness et al. 1971

The sweet potato is a major food crop in all tropical and subtropical countries, and in warmer parts of the U.S. It is grown for the enlarged fleshy roots. The plant is naturally a perennial, but under cultivation is grown as an annual. The plant is a trailing vine. Moist fleshed varieties in the U.S. are often erroneously called yams. In the U.S., sweet potato roots of the previous crop are laid in beds, which in cooler climates are heated, then covered. Sprouts growing from these are pulled free and field planted. Stem cuttings from field plantings may also be planted in the field in areas of long season. Leaves vary in shape, but are commonly heart shaped, and form a canopy over the soil by the time the roots are becoming tuberous. Edible roots develop entirely underground.

Season, field setting to harvest: About 4 months.

Production in U.S.: 700,000 tons.

Use: Culinary, as cooked vegetable, also frozen and canned.

Part of plant consumed: Tuberous roots, generally with peel removed. Non-marketable roots are used as livestock feed.