Manihot esculenta Crantz

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Manihot esculenta

Photo: Bart Wursten
Nhancuco, lower slopes Mt Gorongosa

Manihot esculenta

Photo: Bart Wursten
Nhancuco, lower slopes Mt Gorongosa

Manihot esculenta

Photo: Bart Wursten
Nhancuco, lower slopes Mt Gorongosa

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Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Synonyms: Jathropha manihot L.
Manihot dulcis (J.F. Gmel.) Pax
Manihot utilissima Pohl
Common names:
Frequency: Very occasionally naturalized
Status: Introduced
Shrub or small tree up to 5 m tall, cultivated for its edible root tubers which are widely used as a staple food source. Stems brittle, branching dichotomously, often blueish-grey when young; whitish watery sap present. Leaves up to 15 × 25 cm, deeply divided into 3-7 oblanceolate lobes, dark green above, paler blue-green beneath, almost hairless or slighly pubescent near the midrib; margin entire; petiole up to 25 cm long, often reddish-purple. Inflorescences in lax terminal heads, 2-11 cm long. Flowers unisexual in the same inflorescence, greenish tinged orange-red and often with purplish veining. Fruit ellipsoid to subglobose, up to 17 × 15 mm, greenish, finely wrinkled, six-winged.
Notes: Cultivated for its edible root tubers which are widely used as a staple food source.
Derivation of specific name: esculenta: edible
Altitude range: (metres)
Flowering time:
Worldwide distribution: Native probably in eastern South America; widely cultivated throughout tropical Africa and tropical regions elsewhere.
Zimbabwe distribution: N,C
Growth form(s): Tree.
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Images last updated: Monday 4 June 2012

Burrows, J.E., Burrows, S.M., Lötter, M.C. & Schmidt, E. (2018). Trees and Shrubs Mozambique Publishing Print Matters (Pty), Cape Town. Page 461. (Includes a picture).

Da Silva, M.C., Izidine, S. & Amude, A.B. (2004). A preliminary checklist of the vascular plants of Mozambique. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 30 Sabonet, Pretoria Page 150.

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32 Page 49.

Radcliffe-Smith, A. (1996). Euphorbiaceae Flora Zambesiaca 9(4) Pages 244 - 246. (Includes a picture).

Shone, D.K. & Drummond, R.B. (1965). Poisonous Plants of Rhodesia Ministry of Agriculture, Rhodesia Page 11.

Timberlake, J.R. & Childes, S.L. (2004). Biodiversity of the Four Corners Area: Technical Reviews Volume Two (Chapter 5-15) Appendix 5-1: Plant Checklist Occasional Publications in Biodiversity 15 Page 208.

Other sources of information about Manihot esculenta:

Our websites:

Flora of Caprivi: Manihot esculenta
Flora of Mozambique: Manihot esculenta
Flora of Mozambique: cultivated Manihot esculenta
Flora of Zambia: Manihot esculenta
Flora of Zimbabwe: cultivated Manihot esculenta

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Manihot esculenta
African Plant Database: Manihot esculenta
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Manihot esculenta
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Manihot esculenta
ePIC (electronic Plant Information Center): Manihot esculenta
Flora Zambesiaca web site: Manihot esculenta
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Manihot esculenta
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network): Manihot esculenta
iNaturalist: Manihot esculenta
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Manihot esculenta
JSTOR Plant Science: Manihot esculenta
Kew Herbarium catalogue: Manihot esculenta
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Manihot esculenta
Plants of the World Online: Manihot esculenta
Tropicos: Manihot esculenta
Wikipedia: Manihot esculenta

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-21

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2021). Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Manihot esculenta., retrieved 27 September 2021

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