Sweet Potato

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

sweet potato Ipomoea batatas, the most important of the tropical root crops, is the starchy tuber of a vine of the convolvulus and morning glory family. It is not related to the ordinary potato, although both plants are of American origin.

The sweet potato is the cultivated descendant of a wild plant, remains of whose tubers have been found in a cave in Peru inhabited before 8000 bc. It was taken into cultivation during the last centuries bc, well before the time of the Incas, and became a staple food all over tropical America as far north as Mexico and on the Caribbean islands.