Monday, August 6, 2012

FAQ: Yacón

What's that plant? and other frequently asked questions

After the wild success of the potato experiment, I rushed to the nursery to see if I could get a second crop in. This late in the season, they had no more seed potatoes, but told me I could probably do fine with supermarket potatoes, as long as they weren't treated.

As long as I was there, I wandered around to see if there was anything else I might want to grow, and found Yacón: a relative of the sunflower, grown for its edible tubers. Not quite a potato, but definitely worth trying.

What's that plant?

Yacón, also known as "Peruvian ground apple."

Yacón, a.k.a. Peruvian Ground Apple

What part do you eat?

Edible tubers grow underground, like potatoes. They taste kind of like apples, or jicama. You can eat them raw or cooked.

What kind of plant is it?

Yacón is related to the sunflower. No word on whether its flowers produce edible seeds, though one web site said it had been cultivated by dividing the root cluster for so many generations that it no longer produces viable pollen or seeds.

Left: Yacón  Right: Sunflowers.

Where does it come from?

Yacón is native to South America.
I bought these plants as seedlings from Berkeley Horticultural Nursery.