Cassava - Tapioca, Manihot esculenta
Cassava root is a major source of carbohydrates, a valuable food and it is very hardy. It will grow just about anywhere in subtropical and tropical areas, in drought and poor soils. Roots are also rich in Calcium, Phosphorus and Vitamin C.
The Cassava plant grows 3-4m high and is very ornamental. It has a woody trunk with leaves similar to Paw Paw foliage. It is native to South America.
Cassava root is up to 30cm long, with white to yellow flesh. Cassava is mainly grown for its edible, starchy root.
Tapioca is the dried, powdered root of the Cassava plant. Cassava is a very important plant in developing countries, being the third largest source of carbohydrates, after rice and maize. It is very drought hardy and grows in just about in any soil.
Cassava can be eaten in similar ways to potatoes; boiled, baked or fried, and made into flour. Like potato, it is not eaten raw and needs to be boiled for 15mins to ensure it is safe to eat. Do not eat roots raw.
In some countries the leaf is also eaten, but like the root, they must be boiled for 15 minutes to remove any toxins.
Cassava is mainly grown as an annual crop, but I grow mine as perennials. They will go slightly dormant over winter, and re-shoot beautifully in spring.
Cassava can be planted year-round in warm areas, and in the warmer months in cooler climates. Roots store well, and can be saved and re-planted in spring once the weather warms up.
Plants tend to ‘sprawl’ a bit, so give them at least 1m of space each. They grow well in full sun and are drought hardy. Plants grow 3-4m tall, although mine fall over when they reach around 1.5m tall.
Falling over doesn’t harm them, they continue to grow strongly.
Common Names: Cassava, Tapioca, Manioc, Brazilian Arrowroot, Yuca (Spanish)
Plants for sale: Cuttings 20cm x 3 easy to root