The S. American name mashua is being used to an increasing extent as the English name.
The plant produces numerous small, knobbly, conical tubers weighing up to 100 g (3.5 oz) each. The wide variations in colour (black, red, yellow, white, spotted, streaked, etc.) are signalled by many different names in the countries of origin. Cultivated varieties, now numerous, also vary widely in colour, and in flavour too. Some are strongly bitter and acid, and edible only after treatment resembling that by which chuño is prepared from potato in parts of S. America. The tubers are boiled, then allowed to freeze overnight, and pounded to powder. Other kinds are mild and when boiled in the ordinary way have a flavour similar to that of jerusalem artichokes, but a more mucilaginous texture.