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Useful Temperate Plants

Solanum tuberosum

L.

Solanaceae


There is no universally accepted treatment for the various species that make up the potatoes. We are following the treatment of Spooner D.M. Et al in 2007 in the 'Proceedings of the National. Academy of Science USA 104: 19398-19403', in which only four distinct genera are maintained - viz; Solanum ajanhuiri (diploid forms); Solanum curtilobum (pentaploid forms); Solanum juzepczukii (triploid forms) and Solanum tuberosum, which is subdivided into two cultivar-groups (Andigenum Group of upland Andean genotypes containing diploids, triploids and tetraploids, and the Chilotanum Group of lowland tetraploid Chilean landraces)[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Battata tuberosa Hill

Lycopersicon tuberosum (L.) Mill.

Solanum andigenum Juz. & Bukasov

Solanum apurimacense Vargas

Solanum ascasabii Hawkes

Solanum boyacense Juz. & Bukasov

Solanum caniarense Juz. & Bukasov

Solanum cardenasii Hawkes

Solanum chaucha Juz. & Bukasov

Solanum chiloense (A.DC.) Berthault

Solanum chilotanum Hawkes

Solanum churuspi Hawkes

Solanum coeruleiflorum Hawkes

Solanum cuencanum Juz. & Bukasov

Solanum cultum (A.DC.) Berthault

Solanum diemii Brücher

Solanum esculentum Neck.

Solanum estradae L.E.López

Solanum goniocalyx Juz. & Bukasov

Solanum herrerae Juz.

Solanum hygrothermicum Ochoa

Solanum kesselbrenneri Juz. & Bukasov

Solanum leptostigma Juz. ex Bukasov

Solanum maglia guaytecarum Bitter

Solanum mamilliferum Juz. & Bukasov

Solanum molinae Juz.

Solanum oceanicum Brücher

Solanum ochoanum Lechn.

Solanum parvicorollatum Lechn.

Solanum phureja Juz. & Bukasov

Solanum riobambense Juz. & Bukasov

Solanum rybinii Juz. & Bukasov

Solanum sinense Blanco

Solanum stenotomum Juz. & Bukasov

Solanum subandigenum Hawkes

Solanum tenuifilamentum Juz. & Bukasov

Solanum truncatum Standl. & C.V.Morton

Solanum yabari Hawkes

Solanum zykinii Lechn.

Common Name: Potato

Solanum tuberosum
Just a small selection of the vast range of colours, sizes and shapes of potato varieties
Photograph by: Avodrocc
Creative Commons License
Solanum tuberosum Solanum tuberosum Solanum tuberosum Solanum tuberosum

General Information

Solanum tuberosum (the potato) is a perennial plant with a tuberous rootstock, growing around 1 metre tall.
One of the most widely grown food plants throughout the world, the potato is a very important staple food. It is very high yielding (50 tonnes or more per hectare have been achieved in some European countries, though at the other extreme yields of little more than 2 tonnes have been achieved in parts of Africa), it stores well and can be available all year round. The potato probably arose through cultivation from several wild species that can still be found growing in S. America. Many of these wild species can be used in breeding programmes for improved disease resistance etc.

Known Hazards

All green parts of the plant, including the green parts of tubers, are poisonous, containing an alkaloid called 'solanine'.[
7
Title
Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Chiej. R.
Publisher
MacDonald
Year
1984
ISBN
0-356-10541-5
Description
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
,
10
Title
Poisonous Plants and Animals.
Publication
 
Author
Altmann. H.
Publisher
Chatto and Windus
Year
1980
ISBN
0-7011-2526-8
Description
A small book, reasonable but not very detailed.
,
19
Title
Poisonous Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Stary. F.
Publisher
Hamlyn
Year
1983
ISBN
0-600-35666-3
Description
Not very comprehensive, but easy reading.
]. These solanines are also produced in potato shoots when they sprout, even if the potato is in the dark and the shoots are not green[
65
Title
A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Frohne. D. and Pfänder. J.
Publisher
Wolfe
Year
1984
ISBN
0723408394
Description
Brilliant. Goes into technical details but in a very readable way. The best work on the subject that I've come across so far.
].

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

Western S. America

Habitat

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitPerennial
Height1.00 m
PollinatorsInsects
Cultivation StatusCultivated

Cultivation Details

The potato originated through cultivation from plants being grown at moderate to higher elevations in the tropics of South America. Plants succeed in temperate climates when grown as an annual, the tubers being planted in the spring and harvested in the summer to autumn as growth dies down. In the Tropics plants are rarely grown at elevations lower than 1,000 metres since yields are poor at low elevations[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. The plant is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation in the range of 90 - 4,100mm, and an annual temperature in the range of 3.6 to 27.8°c[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
]. Potatoes are a cool weather crop, the optimal temperature for growth of most cultivars being around 22°c when the plants are young, dropping to around 18°c as the tubers are formed[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. Growth of the tubers is best at soil temperature of 16 - 20°c, with usually no tubers formed above 30°c[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. The top-growth of potatoes is not frost hardy, though the tubers will tolerate a few degrees of frost if left in the ground[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].
Succeeds in most soils, preferably in a sunny position[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
]. It performs well on a wide variety of soils, sandy loams, silt loams, loams, and peats[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
]. Dislikes wet or heavy clay soils[
16
Title
New Vegetable Growers Handbook.
Publication
 
Author
Simons.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1977
ISBN
0-14-046-050-0
Description
A good guide to growing vegetables in temperate areas, not entirely organic.
,
37
Title
The Gardener's Assistant.
Publication
 
Author
Thompson. B.
Publisher
Blackie and Son.
Year
1878
ISBN
-
Description
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
]. Prefers a slightly acid soil, the tubers are subject to scab on limy soils or those deficient in humus. Prefers a pH in the range 5.2 - 6.0, tolerating 4.2 - 8.3[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
,
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. Yields are best from plants grown in rich soils with plenty of organic matter[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
].
Potatoes are very widely grown throughout the world for their edible tubers, there are many named varieties[
132
Title
Fruits of the Earth.
Publication
 
Author
Bianchini. F., Corbetta. F. and Pistoia. M.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Lovely pictures, a very readable book.
].
The potato probably arose through cultivation from several wild species that can still be found growing in S. America. Many of these wild species can be used in breeding programmes for improved disease resistance etc.
Potatoes should not be stored with apples because the ethylene gas released by the apples will cause the potatoes to go soft and develop a sour taste[
201
Title
A - Z of Companion Planting.
Publication
 
Author
Allardice.P.
Publisher
Cassell Publishers Ltd.
Year
1993
ISBN
0-304-34324-2
Description
A well produced and very readable book.
].

Edible Uses

Root - raw or cooked. Potatoes are a very versatile food that can be used in a wide variety of ways. Having a mild flavour, and readily accepting the flavour of other foods, they can be eaten on a regular basis without becoming boring. Whilst occasionally eaten raw, they are most commonly cooked and can boiled, baked, fried, added to soups, stews etc[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. The cooked potato can also be dried and made into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc, or be added to cereal flours when making bread, biscuits etc[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
]. The potato is a very rich source of starch, but does not contain high quantities of other nutrients. When exposed to light, the skin turns green and contains the toxin solanine. Whilst eating a small quantity of green potato is unlikely to cause harm, it is probably wisest to remove any green part of the tuber before eating it.

The fresh petals of white-flowered varieties contain 0.2% rutin[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].

Medicinal

Whilst mainly used as a staple food, potatoes do also have a number of medicinal virtues. A juice made from the tubers, when taken in moderation, can be helpful in the treatment of peptic ulcers, bringing relief from pain and acidity[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
]. Excessive doses of potato juice can be toxic - do not drink the juice of more than one large potato per day[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
]. A poultice has been made from boiling potatoes in water[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
]. This is applied as hot as can be borne to rheumatic joints, swellings, skin rashes, haemorrhoids etc[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
,
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
]. Peeled but uncooked potatoes have been pounded in a mortar and then applied cold as a soothing plaster to burns and scalds[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
]. Potato skins are used in India to treat swollen gums and to heal burns[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
].

The leaves are antispasmodic[
7
Title
Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Chiej. R.
Publisher
MacDonald
Year
1984
ISBN
0-356-10541-5
Description
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
,
201
Title
A - Z of Companion Planting.
Publication
 
Author
Allardice.P.
Publisher
Cassell Publishers Ltd.
Year
1993
ISBN
0-304-34324-2
Description
A well produced and very readable book.
].

The tubers contain very small quantities of atropine alkaloids. One property of these alkaloids is the reduction of digestive secretions, including acids produced in the stomach[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
].
The root and leaf diffusates of growing potato plants possess cardiotonic activity[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].
Dried ethanol extracts of above-ground parts of the plant show marked hypotensive and myotropic action and a spasmolytic and soothing effect on intestinal musculature[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].
Ethanol extracts of the leaves have antifungal properties, active against Phytophthora infestans[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].
The leaves, seeds, and tuber extracts show antimicrobial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria[
269
Title
Handbook of Energy Crops
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J.
Publisher
-
Year
1983
ISBN
-
Description
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of both temperate and tropical plants.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Does well when grown after a crop of rye, Secale cereale[
18
Title
Companion Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B.
Publisher
Watkins
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
,
20
Title
Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Publication
 
Author
Riotte. L.
Publisher
Garden Way, Vermont, USA.
Year
1978
ISBN
0-88266-064-0
Description
Fairly good.
]. Grows well with legumes, sweet corn, cabbage, marigolds, horse radish, flax, dead nettles, sainfoin and nasturtiums[
18
Title
Companion Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B.
Publisher
Watkins
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
,
20
Title
Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Publication
 
Author
Riotte. L.
Publisher
Garden Way, Vermont, USA.
Year
1978
ISBN
0-88266-064-0
Description
Fairly good.
]. Grows badly with tomatoes, sunflowers, members of the cucumber family and raspberries[
18
Title
Companion Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B.
Publisher
Watkins
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
,
20
Title
Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Publication
 
Author
Riotte. L.
Publisher
Garden Way, Vermont, USA.
Year
1978
ISBN
0-88266-064-0
Description
Fairly good.
].

Other Uses

The tubers are a source of starch that is used in sizing cotton and to make industrial alcohol etc[
100
Title
Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1969
ISBN
0192176218
Description
An excellent and well illustrated pocket guide for those with very large pockets. Also gives some details on plant uses.
,
142
Title
Plants Consumed by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Brouk. B.
Publisher
Academic Press
Year
1975
ISBN
0-12-136450-x
Description
Readable but not very comprehensive.
]. It also has many other uses in industry[
171
Title
Economic Botany.
Publication
 
Author
Hill. A. F.
Publisher
The Maple Press
Year
1952
ISBN
-
Description
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some detail about the plants it does cover.
].

Ripe potato juice is an excellent cleaner of silks, cottons and woollens[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
]. The water in which potatoes have been boiled can be used to clean silver and to restore a shine to furniture[
7
Title
Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Chiej. R.
Publisher
MacDonald
Year
1984
ISBN
0-356-10541-5
Description
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
].

Emollient and cleansing face masks are made from potatoes, these are used to treat hard, greasy and wrinkled skins[
7
Title
Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Chiej. R.
Publisher
MacDonald
Year
1984
ISBN
0-356-10541-5
Description
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
].

The potato is a good source of biomass. When boiled with weak sulphuric acid, potato starch is changed into glucose and this can then be fermented into alcohol[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
].

Propagation

Seed - sow early spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions after the last expected frosts. If grown on fast it is possible to get a reasonable crop in the first year though the normal way of growing potatoes is from tubers. Seed from named varieties will not breed true to type but will usually give a good crop.
Division of tubers. Harvest in the autumn, store in a cool frost free place overwinter. Chit the potatoes to encourage the growth of sprouts in the new year and plant out in spring.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2019-10-20. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Solanum+tuberosum>

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