Sweet potato
Overview
 
The sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae
Convolvulaceae
Convolvulaceae, known commonly as the bindweed or morning glory family, are a group of about 60 genera and more than 1,650 species of mostly herbaceous vines, but also trees, shrubs and herbs.- Description :...

. Its large, starch
Starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

y, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable
Root vegetable
Root vegetables are plant roots used as vegetables. Here "root" means any underground part of a plant.Root vegetables are generally storage organs, enlarged to store energy in the form of carbohydrates. They differ in the concentration and the balance between sugars, starches, and other types of...

. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Of the approximately 50 genera and more than 1,000 species of Convolvulaceae, I. batatas is the only crop plant of major importance—some others are used locally, but many are actually poisonous.
Encyclopedia
The sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae
Convolvulaceae
Convolvulaceae, known commonly as the bindweed or morning glory family, are a group of about 60 genera and more than 1,650 species of mostly herbaceous vines, but also trees, shrubs and herbs.- Description :...

. Its large, starch
Starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

y, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable
Root vegetable
Root vegetables are plant roots used as vegetables. Here "root" means any underground part of a plant.Root vegetables are generally storage organs, enlarged to store energy in the form of carbohydrates. They differ in the concentration and the balance between sugars, starches, and other types of...

. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Of the approximately 50 genera and more than 1,000 species of Convolvulaceae, I. batatas is the only crop plant of major importance—some others are used locally, but many are actually poisonous. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato
Potato
The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

 (Solanum tuberosum).

Although the softer, orange variety is often called a yam in parts of North America, the sweet potato is botanically very distinct from the other vegetable called a yam
Yam (vegetable)
Yam is the common name for some species in the genus Dioscorea . These are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania...

, which is native to Africa and Asia and belongs to the monocot family Dioscoreaceae
Dioscoreaceae
Dioscoreaceae is a family of monocotyledonous flowering plants, with about 750 species in eight or nine genera. The best-known member of the family is the Yam ....

. To prevent confusion, the United States Department of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...

 requires sweet potatoes labeled as "yams" to be labeled also as "sweet potatoes". In New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 English
New Zealand English
New Zealand English is the dialect of the English language used in New Zealand.The English language was established in New Zealand by colonists during the 19th century. It is one of "the newest native-speaker variet[ies] of the English language in existence, a variety which has developed and...

, the Māori
Maori language
Māori or te reo Māori , commonly te reo , is the language of the indigenous population of New Zealand, the Māori. It has the status of an official language in New Zealand...

 term kūmara is commonly used.

The genus Ipomoea that contains the sweet potato also includes several garden flowers called morning glories
Morning glory
Morning glory is a common name for over 1,000 species of flowering plants in the family Convolvulaceae, whose current taxonomy and systematics is in flux...

, though that term is not usually extended to Ipomoea batatas. Some cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

s of Ipomoea batatas are grown as ornamental plants; the name "tuberous morning glory" may be used in a horticultural context.

The plant is a herbaceous
Herbaceous plant
A herbaceous plant is a plant that has leaves and stems that die down at the end of the growing season to the soil level. They have no persistent woody stem above ground...

 perennial
Perennial plant
A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. The term is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter lived annuals and biennials. The term is sometimes misused by commercial gardeners or horticulturalists to describe only herbaceous perennials...

 vine
Vine
A vine in the narrowest sense is the grapevine , but more generally it can refer to any plant with a growth habit of trailing or scandent, that is to say climbing, stems or runners...

, bearing alternate heart-shaped or palmately lobed leaves
Leaves
-History:Vocalist Arnar Gudjonsson was formerly the guitarist with Mower, and he was joined by Hallur Hallsson , Arnar Ólafsson , Bjarni Grímsson , and Andri Ásgrímsson . Late in 2001 they played with Emiliana Torrini and drew early praise from the New York Times...

 and medium-sized sympetalous flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

s. The edible tuberous root is long and tapered, with a smooth skin whose color ranges between purple, red, brown, and beige. Its flesh ranges from beige through yellow, orange, and purple.

Origin, distribution and diversity

The center of origin
Indigenous (ecology)
In biogeography, a species is defined as native to a given region or ecosystem if its presence in that region is the result of only natural processes, with no human intervention. Every natural organism has its own natural range of distribution in which it is regarded as native...

 and domestication of sweet potato is thought to be either in Central America or South America. In Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

, sweet potatoes were domesticated at least 5,000 years ago.

Austin (1988) postulated that the center of origin of I. batatas was between the Yucatán Peninsula
Yucatán Peninsula
The Yucatán Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico, separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico, with the northern coastline on the Yucatán Channel...

 of Mexico and the mouth of the Orinoco
Orinoco
The Orinoco is one of the longest rivers in South America at . Its drainage basin, sometimes called the Orinoquia, covers , with 76.3% of it in Venezuela and the remainder in Colombia...

 River in Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

. The 'cultigen
Cultigen
A cultigen is a plant that has been deliberately altered or selected by humans; it is the result of artificial selection. These "man-made" or anthropogenic plants are, for the most part, plants of commerce that are used in horticulture, agriculture and forestry...

' had most likely been spread by local people to the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 and South America by 2500 BC. Zhang et al. (1998) provided strong supporting evidence that the geographical zone postulated by Austin is the primary center of diversity. The much lower molecular diversity found in Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

 suggests this region should be considered as secondary center of sweet potato diversity.

The sweet potato was also grown before western exploration in Polynesia
Polynesia
Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs...

. Sweet potato has been radiocarbon-dated in the Cook Islands
Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is a self-governing parliamentary democracy in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand...

 to 1000 AD, and current thinking is that it was brought to central Polynesia around 700 AD, possibly by Polynesians who had traveled to South America and back, and spread across Polynesia to Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 from there. It is possible, however, that South Americans brought it to the Pacific, although this is unlikely as it was the Polynesians who had a strong maritime
Sea
A sea generally refers to a large body of salt water, but the term is used in other contexts as well. Most commonly, it means a large expanse of saline water connected with an ocean, and is commonly used as a synonym for ocean...

 tradition and not the native South Americans. The theory that the plant could spread by floating seeds across the ocean is not supported by evidence. Another point is that the sweet potato in Polynesia is the cultivated Ipomoea batatas, which is generally spread by vine cuttings and not by seeds.

Sweet potatoes are now cultivated throughout tropical and warm temperate regions wherever there is sufficient water to support their growth.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization
Food and Agriculture Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and...

 (FAO) statistics, world production in 2004 was 127 million tonnes. The majority comes from China, with a production of 105 million tonnes from 49,000 km2. About half of the Chinese crop is used for livestock feed.

Per capita production is greatest in countries where sweet potatoes are a staple of human consumption, led by Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

 at 550 kg per person per year, the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

 at 160 kg, Burundi
Burundi
Burundi , officially the Republic of Burundi , is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura...

 and Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

 at 130 kg and Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

 at 100 kg.

About 20000 tonnes (20,000,000 kg) of sweet potatoes are produced annually in New Zealand, where sweet potato is known by its Māori
Maori language
Māori or te reo Māori , commonly te reo , is the language of the indigenous population of New Zealand, the Māori. It has the status of an official language in New Zealand...

 name, kūmara. It was a staple food for Māori before European contact.

In the U.S., North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, the leading state in sweet potato production, provided 38.5% of the 2007 U.S. production of sweet potatoes. In 2007, California produced 23%, Louisiana 15.9%, and Mississippi 19% of the U.S. total.

The town of Opelousas, Louisiana
Opelousas, Louisiana
Opelousas is a city in and the parish seat of St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, United States. It lies at the junction of Interstate 49 and U.S. Route 190. The population was 22,860 at the 2000 census. Although the 2006 population estimate was 23,222, a 2004 annexation should put the city's...

's "Yambilee" has been celebrated every October since 1946. The Frenchmen who established the first settlement at Opelousas in 1760 discovered the native Atakapa
Atakapa
The Atakapan people are a Southeastern culture of Native American tribes who spoke Atakapa and historically lived along the Gulf of Mexico. They called themselves the Ishak, pronounced "ee-SHAK", which translates as "The People". Although the people were decimated by infectious disease after...

, Alabama, Choctaw
Choctaw
The Choctaw are a Native American people originally from the Southeastern United States...

, and Appalousa
Appalousa
The Appalousa were Native Americans who had occupied the area around Opelousas, Louisiana before European contact.The name Opelousas has been thought to have many meanings, but the one most commonly accepted is "Blackleg", possibly because the tribe painted or stained their legs a dark color...

 tribes eating sweet potatoes. The sweet potato became a favorite food item of the French and Spanish settlers and thus continued a long history of cultivation in Louisiana.

Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

 has about 150 farmers growing sweet potatoes on about 8200 acres (33.2 km²), contributing $19 million dollars to the state's economy. Mississippi's top five sweet potato producing counties are Calhoun
Calhoun County, Mississippi
Calhoun County is a county located in the U.S. state of Mississippi. As of 2010, the population was 14,962. Its county seat is Pittsboro. Calhoun County is named after John C. Calhoun, the U.S. Vice President and U.S...

, Chickasaw
Chickasaw County, Mississippi
-National protected areas:* Natchez Trace Parkway * Tombigbee National Forest -Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 19,440 people, 7,253 households, and 5,287 families residing in the county. The population density was 39 people per square mile . There were 7,981 housing units at an...

, Pontotoc
Pontotoc County, Mississippi
-National protected area:* Natchez Trace Parkway * Tombigbee National Forest -Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 26,726 people, 10,097 households, and 7,562 families residing in the county. The population density was 54 people per square mile . There were 10,816 housing units at an...

, Yalobusha
Yalobusha County, Mississippi
Yalobusha County is a county located in the U.S. state of Mississippi. As of 2010, the population was 12,678. Its county seats are Water Valley and Coffeeville.-History:...

, and Panola
Panola County, Mississippi
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 34,274 people, 12,232 households, and 9,014 families residing in the county. The population density was 50 people per square mile . There were 13,736 housing units at an average density of 20 per square mile...

. The National Sweet Potato Festival is held annually the entire first week in November in Vardaman
Vardaman, Mississippi
Vardaman is a town in Calhoun County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 1,065 at the 2000 census. The town was named for Mississippi Governor James K. Vardaman.-Geography:Vardaman is located at ....

 (Calhoun County), which proclaims itself as "The Sweet Potato Capital".

The town of Benton, Kentucky
Benton, Kentucky
Benton is a city in Marshall County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 4,197 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Marshall County....

, celebrates the sweet potato annually with its Tater Day Festival on the first Monday of April. The town of Gleason, Tennessee
Gleason, Tennessee
Gleason is a town in Weakley County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 1,463 at the 2000 census. The city also holds the annual Tater Town Parade and festival in the fall...

, celebrates the sweet potato on Labor Day
Labor Day
Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers.-History:...

 weekend with its Tater Town Special.

Recently sweet potatoes have gotten a lot of media attention since American actor Matthew Morrison
Matthew Morrison
Matthew James "Matt" Morrison is an American actor, director, musician, and singer-songwriter. He is best known for starring in multiple Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, including his portrayal of Link Larkin in Hairspray on Broadway, and most notably for his Emmy and Golden Globe nominated...

 confessed in an interview for Details magazine to go on a sweet potato diet before shootings.

Cultivation

Producers (in million tonnes)
Data for year 2009
China 80.5 
Nigeria 3.3 
Uganda 2.7 
Indonesia 1.88
Vietnam 1.32
Tanzania 1.31
India 1.1 
Japan 1.0 
World 106.5


The plant does not tolerate frost
Frost
Frost is the solid deposition of water vapor from saturated air. It is formed when solid surfaces are cooled to below the dew point of the adjacent air as well as below the freezing point of water. Frost crystals' size differ depending on time and water vapour available. Frost is also usually...

. It grows best at an average temperature
Temperature
Temperature is a physical property of matter that quantitatively expresses the common notions of hot and cold. Objects of low temperature are cold, while various degrees of higher temperatures are referred to as warm or hot...

 of 24 °C (75.2 °F), abundant sunshine and warm nights. Annual rainfalls of 750–1000 mm (29.5–39.4 in) are considered most suitable, with a minimum of 500 mm (19.7 in) in the growing season. The crop is sensitive to drought at the tuber initiation stage 50–60 days after planting, and it is not tolerant to water-logging, as it may cause tuber rots and reduce growth of storage roots if aeration is poor.

Depending on the cultivar and conditions, tuberous roots mature in two to nine months. With care, early-maturing cultivars can be grown as an annual
Annual plant
An annual plant is a plant that usually germinates, flowers, and dies in a year or season. True annuals will only live longer than a year if they are prevented from setting seed...

 summer crop in temperate areas, such as the northern United States. Sweet potatoes rarely flower
Flower
A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants . The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs...

 when the daylight is longer than 11 hours, as is normal outside of the tropics
Tropics
The tropics is a region of the Earth surrounding the Equator. It is limited in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere at approximately  N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere at  S; these latitudes correspond to the axial tilt of the Earth...

. They are mostly propagated by stem or root cuttings or by adventitious roots called "slips" that grow out from the tuberous roots during storage. True seeds are used for breeding only.

They grow well in many farming conditions and have few natural enemies; pesticides are rarely needed. Sweet potatoes are grown on a variety of soils, but well-drained, light- and medium-textured soils with a pH range of 4.5-7.0 are more favorable for the plant. They can be grown in poor soils with little fertilizer. However, sweet potatoes are very sensitive to aluminum toxicity and will die about six weeks after planting if lime is not applied at planting in this type of soil. Because they are sown by vine cuttings rather than seeds, sweet potatoes are relatively easy to plant. Because the rapidly growing vines shade out weeds, little weeding is needed. In the tropics, the crop can be maintained in the ground and harvested as needed for market or home consumption. In temperate regions, sweet potatoes are most often grown on larger farms and are harvested before first frosts.

China is the largest grower of sweet potatoes, providing about 80% of the world's supply; 130 million tons were produced in 1990; about half that of common potatoes. Historically, most of China's sweet potatoes were grown for human consumption, but now most (60%) are grown to feed pigs. The rest are grown for human food and for other products. Some are grown for export, mainly to Japan. China grows over 100 varieties of sweet potato.

Sweet potatoes very early became popular in the islands of the Pacific Ocean
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

, spreading from Polynesia to Japan and the Philippines. One reason is that they were a reliable crop in cases of crop failure of other staple foods because of typhoon flooding. They are featured in many favorite dishes in Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and other island nations. Indonesia, Vietnam, India, and some other Asian countries are also large sweet potato growers. Sweet potato, also known as kelang in Tulu
Tulu language
The Tulu language |?]]]) is a Dravidian language spoken by 1.95 million native speakers mainly in the southwest part of Indian state Karnataka known as Tulu Nadu. In India, 1.72 million people speak it as their mother tongue , increased by 10 percent over the 1991 census...

 is part of Udupi cusine. Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

 (the third largest grower after Indonesia), Rwanda, and some other African countries also grow a large crop which is an important part of their peoples' diets. North and South America, the original home of the sweet potato, together grow less than three percent of the world's supply. Europe has only a very small sweet potato production, mostly in Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

. In the Caribbean, a variety of the sweet potato called the boniato is popular. The flesh of the boniato is cream-colored, unlike the more popular orange hue seen in other varieties. Boniatos are not as sweet and moist as other sweet potatoes, but many people prefer their fluffier consistency and more delicate flavor.

Sweet potatoes have been an important part of the diet in the United States for most of its history, especially in the Southeast. From the middle of the 20th century, however, they have become less popular. The average per capita consumption of sweet potatoes in the United States is only about 1.5–2 kg (3.3–4.4 lb) per year, down from 13 kg (28.7 lb) in 1920. Southerner Kent Wrench writes: "The Sweet Potato became associated with hard times in the minds of our ancestors and when they became affluent enough to change their menu, the potato was served less often."

New Zealanders grow enough kūmara to provide each person with 7 kg (15.4 lb) per year, and they also import substantially more than this from China.

In the Southeastern United States, sweet potatoes are traditionally cured to improve storage, flavor, and nutrition, and to allow wounds on the periderm of the harvested root to heal. Proper curing requires drying the freshly dug roots on the ground for two to three hours, then storage at 85–90 °F (29.4–32.2 °C) and 90 to 95% relative humidity from five to fourteen days. Cured sweet potatoes can keep for thirteen months when kept at 55–59 °F (12.8–15 °C) and >90% relative humidity
Relative humidity
Relative humidity is a term used to describe the amount of water vapor in a mixture of air and water vapor. It is defined as the partial pressure of water vapor in the air-water mixture, given as a percentage of the saturated vapor pressure under those conditions...

. Colder temperatures injure the roots.

Electronic sizing of sweet potatoes was first introduced to the industry by Wayne E. Bailey Produce Company of Chadbourn, North Carolina in 1990.

Nutrient content

Besides simple starches, sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates
Polysaccharide
Polysaccharides are long carbohydrate molecules, of repeated monomer units joined together by glycosidic bonds. They range in structure from linear to highly branched. Polysaccharides are often quite heterogeneous, containing slight modifications of the repeating unit. Depending on the structure,...

, dietary fiber
Dietary fiber
Dietary fiber, dietary fibre, or sometimes roughage is the indigestible portion of plant foods having two main components:* soluble fiber that is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active byproducts, and* insoluble fiber that is metabolically inert, absorbing water as it...

, beta carotene (a vitamin A
Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a vitamin that is needed by the retina of the eye in the form of a specific metabolite, the light-absorbing molecule retinal, that is necessary for both low-light and color vision...

 equivalent nutrient), vitamin C
Vitamin C
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid or L-ascorbate is an essential nutrient for humans and certain other animal species. In living organisms ascorbate acts as an antioxidant by protecting the body against oxidative stress...

, and vitamin B6
Pyridoxine
Pyridoxine is one of the compounds that can be called vitamin B6, along with pyridoxal and pyridoxamine. It differs from pyridoxamine by the substituent at the '4' position. It is often used as 'pyridoxine hydrochloride'.-Chemistry:...

. Pink, yellow and green varieties are high in carotene, the precursor of vitamin A.

In 1992, the Center for Science in the Public Interest
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Center for Science in the Public Interest is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit watchdog and consumer advocacy group focusing on nutritional education and awareness.-History and funding:...

 compared the nutritional value of sweet potatoes to other vegetables. Considering fiber content, complex carbohydrate
Carbohydrate
A carbohydrate is an organic compound with the empirical formula ; that is, consists only of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with a hydrogen:oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 . However, there are exceptions to this. One common example would be deoxyribose, a component of DNA, which has the empirical...

s, protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

, vitamin
Vitamin
A vitamin is an organic compound required as a nutrient in tiny amounts by an organism. In other words, an organic chemical compound is called a vitamin when it cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by an organism, and must be obtained from the diet. Thus, the term is conditional both on...

s A and C, iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

, and calcium
Calcium
Calcium is the chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It has an atomic mass of 40.078 amu. Calcium is a soft gray alkaline earth metal, and is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust...

, the sweet potato ranked highest in nutritional value. According to these criteria, sweet potatoes earned 184 points, 100 points over the next on the list, the common potato.

Sweet potato varieties with dark orange flesh have more beta carotene than those with light-colored flesh, and their increased cultivation is being encouraged in Africa, where vitamin A deficiency is a serious health problem. Despite the name "sweet", it may be a beneficial food for diabetics, as preliminary studies on animals have revealed it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and to lower insulin resistance.

Culinary uses

Although the leaves and shoots are also edible, the starch
Starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

y tuberous roots are by far the most important product. In some tropical areas, they are a staple food crop
Staple food
A staple food is one that is eaten regularly and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a diet, and that supplies a high proportion of energy and nutrient needs. Most people live on a diet based on one or more staples...

.

Africa

Amukeke (sun-dried slices of storage roots) and inginyo (sun-dried crushed storage roots) are a staple food for people in northeastern Uganda. Amukeke is mainly served for breakfast, eaten with peanut
Peanut
The peanut, or groundnut , is a species in the legume or "bean" family , so it is not a nut. The peanut was probably first cultivated in the valleys of Peru. It is an annual herbaceous plant growing tall...

 sauce. Inginyo is mixed with cassava flour and tamarind
Tamarind
Tamarind is a tree in the family Fabaceae. The genus Tamarindus is monotypic .-Origin:...

 to make atapa. People eat atapa with smoked fish cooked in peanut sauce or with dried cowpea
Cowpea
The Cowpea is one of several species of the widely cultivated genus Vigna. Four cultivated subspecies are recognised:*Vigna unguiculata subsp. cylindrica Catjang...

 leaves cooked in peanut sauce.

The young leaves and vine tips of sweet potato leaves are widely consumed as a vegetable in West African countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, for example), as well as in northeastern Uganda, East Africa. According to FAO leaflet No. 13 - 1990, sweet potato leaves and shoots are a good source of vitamins A, C, and B2 (riboflavin), and according to research done by A. Khachatryan, are an excellent source of lutein
Lutein
Lutein is a xanthophyll and one of 600 known naturally occurring carotenoids. Lutein is synthesized only by plants and like other xanthophylls is found in high quantities in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale...

.

In Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, sweet potato tubers are known as "batata" (بطاطا) are a common street food in winter, where street vendors with carts fitted with ovens sell them to people passing time by the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 or the sea. The two varieties used are the orange fleshed one as well as the white/cream fleshed one. They are also baked at homes as a snack or dessert, drenched with honey
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

.

Asia

In China, sweet potatoes, typically of the yellow variety, are baked in a large iron drum, and sold as street food
Street food
Street food is ready-to-eat food or drink sold in a street or other public place, such as a market or fair, by a hawker or vendor, often from a portable stall. While some street foods are regional, many are not, having spread beyond their region of origin. Most street food are both finger and fast...

 during winter. In Japan, this is called yaki-imo (roasted sweet potato), which typically uses either the yellow-fleshed Japanese sweet potato or the purple-fleshed (Okinawan) sweet potato.

Sweet potato soup
Sweet potato soup
Sweet potato soup is a Chinese dessert found in Southern China and Hong Kong.-Cantonese cuisine:In Cantonese cuisine, it is categorized as a tong sui or sweet soup, hence the Chinese name. The soup is usually thin in texture, but potent in taste. The recipe is simple, consisting of boiling the...

, a Chinese tong sui
Tong Sui
Tong sui, also known as tim tong, is a collective term for any sweet, warm soup or custard served as a dessert at the end of a meal in Cantonese cuisine. Tong sui are a Cantonese specialty and are rarely found in other regional cuisines of China...

(sweet soup) served during winter, consists of boiling sweet potato in water with rock sugar and ginger. Sweet potato greens are a common side dish in Taiwanese cuisine
Taiwanese cuisine
Taiwanese cuisine has several variations. In addition to the following representative dishes from the people of Hoklo ethnicity , there are also Aboriginal, Hakka, and local derivatives of Chinese cuisines .Taiwanese cuisine itself is often associated with influences from mid to southern...

, often boiled or sautéed and served with a garlic and soy sauce mixture, or simply salted before serving. They, as well as dishes featuring the sweet potato root, are commonly found at bento
Bento
is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container. Containers range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquerware...

 (POJ: piān-tong) restaurants. In northeastern Chinese cuisine
Northeastern Chinese cuisine
Northeastern Chinese cuisine is a style of Chinese cuisine in Northeastern China. Many dishes originated from Manchu cuisine. It relies heavily on preserved foods and hearty fare due to the harsh winters and relatively short growing seasons...

, sweet potatoes are often cut into chunks and fried, before being drenched into a pan of boiling syrup.

In Korean cuisine, sweet potato starch is used to produce dangmyeon (cellophane noodles
Cellophane noodles
Cellophane noodles are a type of transparent noodle made from starch , and water.They are generally sold in dried form, boiled to reconstitute, then used in soups, stir fried dishes,...

). Sweet potatoes are also boiled, steamed, or roasted, and young stems are eaten as namul
Namul
Namul is a general term for a Korean seasoned vegetable dish. The name of the dish may vary slightly depending on what vegetables are used and how they are prepared, but they will nonetheless still be a type of namul....

. Pizza restaurants such as Pizza Hut and Domino's in Korea are using sweet potatoes as a popular topping.

In Japan
Japanese cuisine
Japanese cuisine has developed over the centuries as a result of many political and social changes throughout Japan. The cuisine eventually changed with the advent of the Medieval age which ushered in a shedding of elitism with the age of shogun rule...

, boiled sweet potato is the most common way to eat it at home. Also, the use in vegetable tempura
Tempura
], is a Japanese dish of seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried.-Batter:A light batter is made of cold water and soft wheat flour . Eggs, baking soda or baking powder, starch, oil, and/or spices may also be added...

 is common. Daigaku-imo is a baked sweet potato dessert
Dessert
In cultures around the world, dessert is a course that typically comes at the end of a meal, usually consisting of sweet food. The word comes from the French language as dessert and this from Old French desservir, "to clear the table" and "to serve." Common Western desserts include cakes, biscuits,...

. Because it is sweet and starchy, it is used in imo-kinton and some other wagashi
Wagashi
is a traditional Japanese confectionery which is often served with tea, especially the types made of mochi, azuki bean paste, and fruits.Wagashi is typically made from natural ingredients...

(Japanese sweets), such as ofukuimo.
Shōchū
Shochu
is a Japanese distilled beverage. It is typically distilled from barley, sweet potatoes, or rice, though it is sometimes produced from other ingredients such as brown sugar, buckwheat or chestnut. Typically shōchū contains 25% alcohol by volume...

, a Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese spirit normally made from the fermentation of rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

, can also be made from sweet potato, in which case it is called imo-jōchū. Imo-gohan
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

, sweet potato cooked with rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

, is popular in Guangdong, Taiwan and Japan. It is also served in nimono or nitsuke, boiled and typically flavored with soy sauce
Soy sauce
Soy sauce is a condiment produced by fermenting soybeans with Aspergillus oryzae or Aspergillus sojae molds, along with water and salt...

, mirin
Mirin
is an essential condiment used in Japanese cuisine, consisting of 40%–50% sugar. It is a kind of rice wine similar to sake, but with a lower alcohol content—14% instead of 20%. There are three general types. The first is hon mirin , which contains alcohol. The second is shio mirin, which contains...

and dashi
Dashi
Dashi is a class of soup and cooking stock, considered fundamental to Japanese cooking. In 1980, Shizuo Tsuji wrote: "Many substitutes for dashi are possible, but without dashi, dishes are merely à la japonaise and lack the authentic flavor." Dashi forms the base for miso soup, clear broth, noodle...

.

In Malaysia and Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, sweet potato is often cut into small cubes and cooked with yam and coconut milk (santan) to make a sweet dessert called bubur caca. A favorite way of cooking sweet potato is deep frying slices of sweet potato in batter, and served as a tea-time snack. In homes, sweet potatoes are usually boiled. The leaves of sweet potatoes are usually stir-fried with only garlic or with sambal belacan and dried shrimp by the Malaysian Chinese.

In some regions of India, fasts of religious nature are an occasion for a change in normal diet, and a total absence from cooking or eating is held as elective while a normal diet for a fasting day is a light feast consisting of different foods from usual, amongst which sweet potato is one of the prime sources of sustenance. Sweet potato is eaten otherwise, too, and a popular variety of preparation in most parts is roasted slow over kitchen coals at night and eaten with some dressing—primarily salt, possibly yogurt—while the easier way in the south is simply boiling or pressure-cooking before peeling, cubing and seasoning for a vegetable dish as part of the meal. Usually the preparations for sweet potato are similar to the blander ones for potato, while the sharper versions—with more green chili or red pepper—are reserved for potato.

In the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, sweet potatoes (locally known as camote or kamote) are an important food crop in rural areas. They are often a staple among impoverished families in provinces, as they are easier to cultivate and cost less than rice. The tubers are boiled or baked in coals and may be dipped in sugar or syrup. Young leaves and shoots (locally known as talbos ng kamote or camote tops) are eaten fresh in salads with shrimp paste
Shrimp paste
Shrimp paste or shrimp sauce, is a common ingredient used in Southeast Asian and Southern Chinese cuisine. It is known as terasi in Indonesian, ngapi in Burmese, kapi in Thai, Khmer and Lao language, belacan in Malay, mắm ruốc, mắm tép and mắm tôm in...

 (bagoong alamang) or fish sauce
Fish sauce
Fish sauce is a condiment that is derived from fish that have been allowed to ferment. It is an essential ingredient in many curries and sauces. Fish sauce is a staple ingredient in numerous cultures in Southeast Asia and the coastal regions of East Asia, and features heavily in Thai and Vietnamese...

. They can be cooked in vinegar and soy sauce and served with fried fish (a dish known as adobong talbos ng kamote), or with recipes such as sinigang
Sinigang
Sinigang is a Filipino soup or stew characterized by its sour flavor most often associated with tamarind .- Ingredients :Sinigang is traditionally tamarind based. Other versions of the dish derive their sourness from ingredients such as guava, calamansi, bilimbi, or raw mango among others...

. The stew obtained from boiling camote tops is purple-colored, and is often mixed with lemon as juice. Sweet potatoes are also sold as street food in suburban and rural areas. Fried sweet potatoes coated with caramelized sugar and served in skewers (camote cue
Camote cue
A Camote cue or Camote fritter is a popular snack food in the Philippines of deep fried camote with caramelized brown sugar. It is one of the most common street foods in the Philippines, along with Banana cue and turon....

) are popular afternoon snacks. Sweet potatoes are also used in a variant of halo-halo
Halo-halo
Halo-halo is a popular Filipino dessert that is a mixture of shaved ice and evaporated milk to which are added various boiled sweet beans and fruits, and served in a tall glass or bowl....

called ginatan, where they are cooked in coconut milk and sugar and mixed with a variety of rootcrops, sago
Sago
Sago is a starch extracted in the spongy center or pith, of various tropical palm stems, Metroxylon sagu. It is a major staple food for the lowland peoples of New Guinea and the Moluccas, where it is called saksak and sagu. A type of flour, called sago flour, is made from sago. The largest supply...

, jackfruit
Jackfruit
The jackfruit is a species of tree in the Artocarpus genus of the mulberry family . It is native to parts of Southern and Southeast Asia. It is the national fruit of Bangladesh, . The jackfruit tree is believed to be indigenous to the southwestern rain forests of India...

 and bilu-bilo (glutinous rice
Glutinous rice
Glutinous rice is a type of short-grained Asian rice that is especially sticky when cooked. It is called glutinous Glutinous rice (Oryza sativa var. glutinosa or Oryza glutinosa; also called sticky rice, sweet rice, waxy rice, botan rice, biroin chal, mochi rice, and pearl rice, and pulut) is a...

 balls). Bread made from sweet potato flour is also gaining popularity. Sweet potato is relatively easy to propagate, and in rural areas that can be seen abundantly at canals and dikes. The uncultivated plant is usually fed to pigs.

In the mountainous regions of West Papua, sweet potatoes are the staple food among the natives there. Using the bakar batu way of cooking (free translation: burning rocks), rocks that have been burned in a nearby bonfire are thrown into a pit lined with leaves. Layers of sweet potatoes, an assortment of vegetables, and pork are piled on top of the rocks. The top of the pile then is insulated with more leaves, creating a pressure of heat and steam inside which cooks all food within the pile after a several hours. In most parts of Indonesia, sweet potatoes are frequently fried with batter and served as snacks.

North America

Candied sweet potatoes are a side dish consisting mainly of sweet potatoes prepared with brown sugar, marshmallow
Marshmallow
The marshmallow is a confection that, in its modern form, typically consists of sugar, corn syrup, water, gelatin that has been softened in hot water, dextrose, vanilla flavourings, and sometimes colouring, whipped to a spongy consistency. Some marshmallow recipes call for egg whites...

s, maple syrup
Maple syrup
Maple syrup is a syrup usually made from the xylem sap of sugar maple, red maple, or black maple trees, although it can also be made from other maple species such as the bigleaf maple. In cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and roots before the winter; the starch is then...

, molasses
Molasses
Molasses is a viscous by-product of the processing of sugar cane, grapes or sugar beets into sugar. The word molasses comes from the Portuguese word melaço, which ultimately comes from mel, the Latin word for "honey". The quality of molasses depends on the maturity of the sugar cane or sugar beet,...

, orange juice
Orange juice
Orange juice is a popular beverage made from oranges. It is made by extraction from the fresh fruit, by desiccation and subsequent reconstitution of dried juice, or by concentration of the juice and the subsequent addition of water to the concentrate...

, marron glacé, or other sweet ingredients. Often served in America on Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Day is a holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada. Thanksgiving is celebrated each year on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. In Canada, Thanksgiving falls on the same day as Columbus Day in the...

, this dish represents traditional American cooking
Cuisine of the United States
American cuisine is a style of food preparation originating from the United States of America. European colonization of the Americas yielded the introduction of a number of ingredients and cooking styles to the latter...

 and of that prepared with the indigenous peoples of the Americas
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 when European American
European American
A European American is a citizen or resident of the United States who has origins in any of the original peoples of Europe...

 settlers first arrived.
Sweet potato casserole is a side dish of mashed sweet potatoes in a casserole dish, topped with a brown sugar and pecan topping.
Sweet potato pie
Sweet potato pie
Sweet potato pie is a traditional side dish in the Southern United States. It is often served during the American holiday season, especially at Thanksgiving, and is similar in many ways to pumpkin pie...

 is also a traditional favorite dish in Southern U.S. cuisine
Cuisine of the Southern United States
The cuisine of the Southern United States is defined as the historical regional culinary form of states generally south of the Mason Dixon Line dividing Pennsylvania from Maryland and Delaware as well as along the Ohio River, and extending west to Southern Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.The most...

.
Sweet potatoes slices are fried in bacon drippings and eaten with the bacon on toast. Sweet potato fries or chips are another common preparation, and are made by julienning
Julienning
Julienne is a culinary knife cut in which the food item is cut into long thin strips, not unlike matchsticks. Sometimes called 'shoe string', e.g. 'shoestring fries'...

 and deep frying
Deep frying
Deep frying is a cooking method in which food is submerged in hot oil or fat. This is normally performed with a deep fryer or chip pan; industrially, a pressure fryer or vacuum fryer may be used....

 sweet potatoes, in the fashion of French fried potatoes. Baked sweet potatoes are sometimes offered in restaurants as an alternative to baked potato
Baked potato
A baked potato, or jacket potato, is the edible result of baking a potato. When well cooked, a baked potato has a fluffy interior and a crisp skin. It may be served with fillings and condiments such as butter, cheese or ham....

es. They are often topped with brown sugar and butter. Sweet potato butter can be cooked into a gourmet spread. Sweet potato mash is served as a side dish, often at Thanksgiving dinner
Thanksgiving dinner
The centerpiece of contemporary Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada is a large meal, generally centered around a large roasted turkey. The majority of the dishes in the...

 or with barbecue. There is even a spicy condiment - Cackalacky Classic Condiment
Cackalacky Classic Condiment
Cackalacky is a mildly spiced sweet potato-based table condiment from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S. The brand name, Cackalacky, is also a nickname for the Carolinas.-References:...

 - that is made with sweet potatoes.

New Zealand

Before European contact, the Māori used the small, yellow-skin, finger-sized kūmara known as taputini, hutihuti and rekamaroa they had brought with them from east Polynesia. Modern trials have shown that the taputini was capable of producing well, but when in the early 19th century, American whalers, sealers and trading vessels introduced larger varieties they quickly predominated.

In New Zealand, Māori traditionally cooked the kūmara in a hāngi
Hangi
Hāngi is a traditional New Zealand Māori method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a pit oven still used for special occasions.To "lay a hāngi" or "put down a hāngi" involves digging a pit in the ground, heating stones in the pit with a large fire, placing baskets of food on top of the...

earth oven. This is still a common practice when there are large gatherings on marae
Marae
A marae malae , malae , is a communal or sacred place which serves religious and social purposes in Polynesian societies...

. Now there are three main varieties (red, orange and gold) grown in the subtropical northern part of the North Island and widely available throughout New Zealand, where they are a popular alternative to potatoes. The red variety has dull red skin and purple-streaked white flesh, and is the most popular. The orange variety is the same as the American "Beauregard" variety. The gold kumara has pale, yellowish skin and flesh.

Other

In the Solomon Islands, and neighboring Melanesian countries (as well as some parts of Polynesia), the sweet potato, along with the yam
Yam (vegetable)
Yam is the common name for some species in the genus Dioscorea . These are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania...

, also goes by the name common desert truffle. In Honiara, the capital city of the Solomon Islands, sweet potato is commonly referred to as "potato", whereas true potatoes are referred to as "English potato".

In Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, sweet potato is called boniato. On the evening of All Souls' Day, in Catalonia
Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

 (northeastern Spain)it is traditional to serve roasted sweet potato and chestnuts, panellets
Panellets
Panellets are the traditional dessert of the All Saints holiday, the Castanyada, in Catalonia, Eivissa or the Land of Valencia, together with chestnuts and sweet potatoes. Panellets are often accompanied by a sweet wine, usually moscatell, mistela, vi de missa or vi ranci...

 and sweet wine. The occasion is called La Castanyada. Sweet potato is also appreciated to make cakes or to eat roasted through the whole country.

In Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, sweet potatoes are called 'camote' and are frequently served alongside ceviche
Ceviche
Ceviche is a seafood dish popular in the coastal regions of the Americas, especially Central and South America. The dish is typically made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices such as lemon or lime and spiced with chilli peppers. Additional seasonings such as onion, salt,...

. Sweet potato chips are also a commonly sold snack, be it on the street or in packaged foods.

In Veneto
Veneto
Veneto is one of the 20 regions of Italy. Its population is about 5 million, ranking 5th in Italy.Veneto had been for more than a millennium an independent state, the Republic of Venice, until it was eventually annexed by Italy in 1866 after brief Austrian and French rule...

 (northeast Italy
Northeast Italy
Northeast Italy is one of the five official statistical regions of Italy used by the National Institute of Statistics , a first level NUTS region and a European Parliament constituency...

), sweet potato is known as patata mericana in the Venetian language
Venetian language
Venetian or Venetan is a Romance language spoken as a native language by over two million people, mostly in the Veneto region of Italy, where of five million inhabitants almost all can understand it. It is sometimes spoken and often well understood outside Veneto, in Trentino, Friuli, Venezia...

 (patata americana in Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

, meaning "American potato"), and it is cultivated above all in the southern area of the region; it is a traditional fall dish, boiled or roasted.

Nonculinary uses

In South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

, the juice of red sweet potatoes is combined with lime
Lime (fruit)
Lime is a term referring to a number of different citrus fruits, both species and hybrids, which are typically round, green to yellow in color, 3–6 cm in diameter, and containing sour and acidic pulp. Limes are a good source of vitamin C. Limes are often used to accent the flavors of foods and...

 juice to make a dye
Dye
A dye is a colored substance that has an affinity to the substrate to which it is being applied. The dye is generally applied in an aqueous solution, and requires a mordant to improve the fastness of the dye on the fiber....

 for cloth. By varying the proportions of the juices, every shade from pink to black can be obtained.

All parts of the plant are used for animal fodder
Fodder
Fodder or animal feed is any agricultural foodstuff used specifically to feed domesticated livestock such as cattle, goats, sheep, horses, chickens and pigs. Most animal feed is from plants but some is of animal origin...

.

Sweet potatoes or camotes are often found in Moche
Moche
'The Moche civilization flourished in northern Peru from about 100 AD to 800 AD, during the Regional Development Epoch. While this issue is the subject of some debate, many scholars contend that the Moche were not politically organized as a monolithic empire or state...

 ceramics.

Several selections are cultivated in gardens as ornamental plants for their attractive foliage, including the dark-leafed cultivars 'Blackie' and 'Ace of Spades' and the chartreuse-foliaged 'Margarita'. The species called wild sweet potato vine, man root, or man-of-the-earth, is not edible, but it is cultivated as an ornamental vine.

Researchers at North Carolina State University are breeding sweet potato varieties that would be grown primarily for biofuel production.

Names

Although it is sometimes called a yam in North America, the sweet potato is not in the yam
Yam (vegetable)
Yam is the common name for some species in the genus Dioscorea . These are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania...

 family, nor is it closely related to the common potato
Potato
The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

. The first Europeans to taste sweet potatoes were members of Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

' expedition in 1492. Later explorers found many varieties under an assortment of local names, but the name which stayed was the indigenous Taino
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

 name of 'batata'. This name was later transmuted to the similar name for a different vegetable, the ordinary potato, causing confusion from which it never recovered. The first record of the name "sweet potato" is found in the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

of 1775.

Australasia

95% of Australia's production is of the orange variety named Beauregard, originally from America, known simply as sweet potato. A reddish-purple variety, Northern Star, is 4% of production and is sold as Kumara.
Red kumara is the variety most prevalent in New Zealand. Kumara is particularly popular as a roasted food or in contemporary cuisine, as kumara chips, often served with Sour Cream
Sour cream
Sour cream is a dairy product rich in fats obtained by fermenting a regular cream by certain kinds of lactic acid bacteria. The bacterial culture, which is introduced either deliberately or naturally, sours and thickens the cream. Its name stems from the production of lactic acid by bacterial...

 and sweet chili sauce. Occasionally shops in Australasia will label the purple variety "purple sweet potato" to denote its difference to the other varieties.

Spain and Latin America

The Spanish took the Taino
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

 name batata directly, and also combined it with the Quechua
Quechua languages
Quechua is a Native South American language family and dialect cluster spoken primarily in the Andes of South America, derived from an original common ancestor language, Proto-Quechua. It is the most widely spoken language family of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, with a total of probably...

 word for potato, papa, to create the word patata for the common potato. In Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

, the sweet potato is called by the Nahuatl
Nahuatl
Nahuatl is thought to mean "a good, clear sound" This language name has several spellings, among them náhuatl , Naoatl, Nauatl, Nahuatl, Nawatl. In a back formation from the name of the language, the ethnic group of Nahuatl speakers are called Nahua...

-derived name camote. In Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, the Quechua name for a type of sweet potato is kumar, strikingly similar to the Polynesian name kumara. Boniato is another name widely used in mainland Spain.

In South America, Peruvian sweet potato remnants dating as far back as 8000 BC have been found.

In Uruguay, the sweet potato is referred to as el boniato.

For other languages' native words for sweet potato, see the Wiktionary entry for "sweet potato"

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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