Cassava

18 May

Cassava (Manihot esculenta), tropical semi-woody perennial shrub or small tree, fast growth to 10-15 feet in height, narrower spread, may become deciduous, large palmate dark green foliage, grown throughout the world for edible roots, plant in full sun to shade, drought tolerant, deer resistant.

Cassava is a tall semiwoody perennial shrub or tree with big palmately compound leaves. It resembles a castor bean plant (Ricinus communis). The dark green leaves are a foot or more across and have 5-9 lobes. The petioles (leaf stems) are very long, up to 24 in (61 cm) long and they are red as are the stems. Plants can grow more than 20 ft (6.1 m) tall in frostfree regions, but where they die back and regrow in spring they rarely get more than 10 ft (3 m) tall. The tuberous edible roots are 8-30 in (20-76 cm) long and 1-3 in (2.5-7.6 cm) in diameter. They grow in outward pointing clusters from the base of the stem just below the soil surface. There are several named cultivars available. The primitive “bitter cassavas” contain large amounts of cyanide and need a great deal of processing to make their roots edible. The modern “sweet” cultivars require only peeling and cooking.


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