Alternative Root Crops.
- Dear Ivan
I believe the root crop you are talking about is the ahipa (Pachyrhizus
ahipa). This plant does appear in the PFAF database, though it is somewhat
doubtful as a crop for the temperate zone. I enclose a brief excerpt from
If you want very detailed info on the plant, then I would recommend that you
visit the site http://www.cgiar.org/ipgri/ and look at their info on Andean
tubers. An excerpt from that info is included below.
Hope this is of help.
Sometimes cultivated for its edible root in the Andes, this plant is
not frost hardy but could possibly be grown as a summer crop in cool
temperate zones. There are some named varieties. When grown for its
root the flowers should be removed, this is thought to increase the size of
roots by up to 100%. The plant is day-neutral and so is much more
likely to produce tubers in this country than the related jicama,
Pachyrrizus tuberosus. It has produced good yields when grown in a
greenhouse in Denmark. A faster-maturing plant than the jicama, it
flowers in about 10 weeks from seed and the root is harvested after 5 - 6
The Neotropical genus Pachyrhizus DC. (the yam beans) is one of the few
genera with edible tuberous roots. The so-called Mexican yam bean (or
P. erosus (L.) Urban) is the only species cultivated on a larger scale for
as well as the export market and which has been successfully introduced to
regions pantropically and with remarkable success in Southeast Asia.
the five species within the genus, two additional species are cultivated: P.
(Wedd.) Parodi and P. tuberosus, both of South American origin.
At present P. ahipa is only recorded in cultivation practised by small
situated in the subtropical east Andean valleys of Bolivia and northern
higher altitudes than the other two cultivated species (Ørting 1996b; Ørting
The variation available within this little known species was until recently
recorded as only five accessions were available to morphological and
studies. Not until additional germplasm, representing Bolivian landraces of
origin, was included in the studies could a fair estimation of the specific
be completed. It was previously accepted that all P. ahipa landraces were of
determinate growth habit, i.e. small erect bushes, with a short growth
season of 6 to
less than 5 months, but now landraces with indeterminate growth and a longer
growth season have become known. The species is so far only known in
and only genotypes producing a single, vertical tuberous root have been
tuberous root is characterized by having a higher dry matter content (more
10%) than recorded in P. erosus and the Ashipa cultivar group within the P.
complex. The tubers are, as a rule, consumed fresh almost like a fruit.
The Yam Bean Project - a multidisciplinary research project aimed at
the agronomic potential of the genus and initiated in 1985 - has succeeded
collecting and evaluation of the widest range of extant genotypes of both
and the cultivated species.
It is the hope of the authors that the great potential and attractiveness of
species as an alternative tuber crop for subtropical regions will be clearly
----- Original Message -----
> > Do you know what this vegetable is?
> > In southern Bolivia around May/June time I regularly purchased a large
> > root vegetable the locals called AKHIPA or similar. Because of its
> > sweetness, it is classified a fruit, and eaten raw. The root is
> > gently pointed, varying from as long as a fat parsnip to almost
> > ball-shaped, often with some vertical indentations, typically around
> > 150g to 400g in weight. The flesh is radish-white, shot with purple
> > fibres, and bleeds a white starchy liquid when cut. The skin is grey
> > and easily pulled off by hand. I found it sweet, tasty, and it
> > helped settle a dodgy stomach. It had all been harvested when I was
> > there, so I did not see the plant. The only field I identified was at
> > about 3500m. There was plenty of it in Potosi, Uyuni and Tupiza. I
> > found it with difficulty in Oruro. Stallholders claimed it is sometimes
> > delivered to La Paz, but is not grown locally. They had never
> > heard of it in Sucre or Cochabamba. Do you know what this is?
> > Is it confined to Southern Bolivia, or is it found elsewhere, perhaps
> > under a different name?