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Overview

Brief Summary

Ipomoea batatas, the sweet potato, is a tuber-producing herbaceous dicotyledonous perennial vining plant in the Convolvulaceae (morning glory family) that originated in Central America and is now widely grown as a food crop in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide (between 40°N and 32°S latitude). It is the second most important root crop grown globally (after cassava, Manihot esculenta). Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are particularly important as a food crop in Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Latin America.

The sweet potato is only distantly related to the true potato (Solanum tuberosum). Although some varieties are referred to as yams, they are not true yams, which are a distinct set of species of the genus Dioscorea, in the monocot family Dioscoreaceae, native to Asia and Africa.

The sweet potato plant, which is often cultivated as an annual from the easily rooted vegetative cuttings, is a trailing vine with alternate leaves up to 30 cm (12 inches) long, which range from heart-shaped to lobed, depending on the cultivar. Flower petals are fused into a radially symmetrical funnel-shaped corolla, pink to purple in color. (Various Ipomoea species are cultivated as ornamental morning glories, and although the flowers of I. batatas are not as showy as some, it is the source of ornamental as well as edible cultivars, including some with variegated foliage.) Tubers are long and tapered, with a smooth skin whose color ranges between purple, red, brown, and beige. The flesh ranges from beige through yellow, orange, and purple, and may be dry and mealy (as in the yellowish types referred to as yams) or moist and smooth.

The tubers are an important source of carbohydrates in many developing nations, and are also a regional favorite in the southern U.S. Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and are a good source of vitamins B, C, and beta-carotene, as well as the amino acids lysine and threonine. Young leaves and shoots are also edible, and the entire plant is used as animal feed.

Total global commercial production of sweet potatoes in 2010 was 106.6 million metric tons, harvested from 8.1 million hectares. China is the leading producer of sweet potatoes accounting for around 72% of the global total, due in part to the use of sweet potatoes (rather than corn) to make ethanol. African nations including Uganda, Nigeria, and Tanzania, as well as Indonesia, Vietnam, India, and Japan also rank among the top ten producers. U.S. researchers are also exploring the use of sweet potatoes for biofuel, and developing new cultivars for this purpose using traditional and genetic engineering techniques.

(Biofuelscenter.org 2011, Sadik 1988, USDA 2012, Wikipedia 2012)

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Comprehensive Description

Description

Perennial herb, growing from a thick tuberous rootstock. Stems 1-several, prostrate or erect, hairless, slender, woody at the base.Leaves deeply palmately or somewhat pinnately 3-9-lobed, rarely simple; lobes filiform to linear, 2-7 cm long. hairless. Flowers axillary, funnel-shaped, 4-6 cm in diameter, mauve or magenta-pink, darker in the centre. Capsule subspherical-conical, pointed at the apex with the style-base, hairless.
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Source: Flora of Zimbabwe

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Derivation of specific name

bolusiana: named after Harry Bolus (1834-1911) South African botanist and founder of the Bolus Herbarium at thr University of Cape Town.
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Description

Perennial herb, widely cultivated for its edible tubers. Stems with milky sap, prostate, rooting at the nodes, rarely twining. Leaves, up to 10 × 13 cm, triangular to broadly ovate in outline, entire or more or less deeply palmately 3-7-lobed, more or less cordate at the base. Flowers in several flowered axillary clusters on a long peduncle. Corolla funnel-shaped, pale mauve to whitish. Capsule ovoid.
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Derivation of specific name

batatas: Haitian name for the Sweet potato
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Distribution

Worldwide distribution

Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Freestate and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and Madagascar
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Worldwide distribution

Probably native to South America
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Distribution: Widely cultivated in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Native to the Neotropics but cultivated throughout the tropics and subtropics.

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Probably native of tropical South America; cultivated throughout tropical areas for its edible tubers ('sweet potato').
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Physical Description

Morphology

Elevation Range

1000-2200 m
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Description

Herbs annual, with ellipsoid, fusiform, or elongated subterranean tubers; sap milky; axial parts glabrous or pilose. Stems prostrate or ascending, rarely twining, green or purplish, much branched, rooting at nodes. Petiole 2.5-20 cm; leaf blade broadly ovate to circular, 4-13 X 3-13 cm, margin entire or palmately 3-5(-7)-lobed, herbaceous; lobes broadly ovate to linear-lanceolate, sparsely pilose or glabrous. Inflorescences 1- or 3-7-flowered; peduncle 2-10.5 cm, stout, angular; bracts early deciduous, lanceolate, 2-4 mm. Pedicel 2-10 mm. Sepals oblong or elliptic, ± unequal, glabrous or pilose abaxially, margin ciliate, apex acute, mucronulate, outer 2 sepals 7-10 mm, inner 3 sepals 8-11 mm. Corolla pink, white, pale purple to purple, with a darker center, campanulate to funnelform, 3-4 cm, glabrous. Stamens included. Pistil included; ovary pubescent or glabrous. Capsule rarely produced, ovoid or depressed globose. Seeds glabrous. 2n = 84, 90*.
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Diagnostic Description

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Synonym

Convolvulus batatas Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 154. 1753; Batatas edulis (Thunberg ex Murray) Choisy; C. candicans Solander ex Sims; C. edulis Thunberg ex Murray; Ipomoea batatas var. edulis (Thunberg ex Murray) Makino; I. batatas var. lobata Gagnepain & Courchet; I. edulis (Thunberg ex Murray) Makino; I. fastigiata Sweet.
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Type Information

Holotype for Ipomoea vulsa House
Catalog Number: US 291646
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): F. Mueller
Year Collected: 1855
Locality: Orizaba., Veracruz, Mexico, North America
  • Holotype: House, H. D. 1907. Muhlenbergia. 3: 45.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat & Distribution

Cultivated throughout China, sometimes persisting from cultivation, but doubtfully naturalized [Indonesia, Japan (Ryukyu Islands), Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, New Guinea, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam; Africa, Australia, North America, Pacific Islands, South America, cultivated worldwide]
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Associations

Known Pests: MEGASTES GRANDALIS (MOTHBORER) EUSCEPES BATATAE, PRODENIA & CYCLAS (WEAVELS) MELOIDOGYNE & ROTLYLENCHUS RENIFORMIS (NEMATODES)_T

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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Persistence: ANNUAL

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ipomoea bolusiana

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ipomoea simplex

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Barcode data: Ipomoea batatas

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ipomoea batatas

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Leaf: Used to treat measles in NW Guyana.

  • van Andel, T. R. 2000. Non-timber Forest Products of the North-West District of Guyana. Part I: 326 pp., Part II: A Field Guide, 358 pp. Tropenbos-Guyana Series 8B. Georgetown, Guyana: Tropenbos-Guyana Programme.

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Economic Uses

Uses: FOOD, Root/tuber, Beverage (alcoholic), Beverage (non-alcoholic)

Production Methods: Cultivated

Comments: Major food crop around the world. Conservation of wild species should be coordinated with International Potato Center in Lima, Peru.

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Notes

Comments

Ipomoea batatas is a productive and adaptable crop. Its tubers are an important source of food, starch, and raw material for producing alcohol. The stems and leaves can be used as livestock forage. In ancient Chinese texts, the name now used for "sweet potato" refers to Dioscorea alata Linnaeus, and not this species.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: From the American tropics; introduced to Hawaii in Polynesian times.

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