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Tapioca Manihot esculenta

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
MAN-ee-hoat es-kew-LEN-tah
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Cassava is a bushy, broadleaf evergreen, flowering herb or shrub in the spurge family that can grow to 10 feet tall. It is a perennial, but is often grown as an annual because of its intolerance of frost. The plant has a milky sap, alternate leaves, inconspicuous flowers that bloom throughout the year, and elongated tuberous roots. These stout roots are the source of cassava, tapioca, starch, and other food products. The tuberous roots are highly toxic when raw, but are edible once properly prepared and cooked. The genus name comes from the Brazilian name, manioc. The species name means edible or good to eat.

Cassava grows best under full sun or partial shade, in moist, fertile, sandy well-drained soil. It is evergreen in USDA zones 10 to 12. It can be grown in cooler climates as long as it has 8 to 9 months without a frost or temperatures below 60 degrees F. A frost will cause the plant to die back to the ground without producing edible roots suitable for harvest. However, should this happen, the plant will sprout again in the spring. Alternatively, Cassava can be grown in a container and be overwintered indoors. Cassava is not commonly grown in North Carolina.

Cultivated Cassava is classed into two different varieties: bitter, which is primarily grown for starch, and sweet, which is primarily grown as a vegetable.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

No known diseases or insect pests. Watch for red spider mites.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#poisonous#showy leaves#tuberous#flowering shrub#edible roots#edible garden#poisonous root#wildlife friendly#toxic
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#poisonous#showy leaves#tuberous#flowering shrub#edible roots#edible garden#poisonous root#wildlife friendly#toxic
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Manihot
    Species:
    esculenta
    Family:
    Euphorbiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Extensively cultivated root crop in tropical and subtropical regions.
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Brazil, Western South America.
    Distribution:
    Alabama, Texas, Central America, Central Africa, India, Southeast Asia.
    Edibility:
    Tubers are boiled and eaten or made into tapioca. Planted as an annual root crop in tropical areas around the world for the roots from which cassava, tapioca, starch and other food products are obtained.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 6 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Herb
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    10a, 10b, 11a, 11b, 12a, 12b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Six angled globose capsule. Seeds are brown to grey with black patches.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Insignificant
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Inconspicuous, small, apetalous (without petals), greenish-white flowers (corolla is absent but bell-shaped calyx is petal-like) in short terminal panicles bloom throughout the year. Flowers are unisexual.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Variegated
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Palmatifid
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Deeply lobed, medium green leaves (typically 3 to 7 parted) with each leaf lobe growing to 3 to 8 inches long. Some variegated cultivars exist.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Rabbits
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    HIGHLY TOXIC, MAY BE FATAL IF EATEN! Raw tubers and root peelings cause weak and irregular breathing, weakness, excitement, depression, staggering, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, and coma of short duration.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Cyanogenic glycosides linamarin and lotaustralin. Roots contain toxic hydrocyanic acid.
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Roots