Common Name: Colorado Wild Potato
Solanum jamesii is a herbaceous perennial plant that can grow up to 20cm tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
Although providing many well-known foods for people, including the potato, tomato, pepper and aubergine, most species in this genus also contain toxic alkaloids. Whilst these alkaloids can make the plant useful in treaing a range of medical conditions, they can also cause problems such as nausea, vomiting, salivation, drowsiness, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weakness and respiratory depression[
Unless there are specific entries with information on edible uses, it would be unwise to ingest any part of this plant[
South-western N. America - Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, northern Mexico
Coniferous forests; at elevations from 1,600 - 2,500 metres in Arizona.
Solanum jamesii is not a very cold-hardy species, but plants can be grown as half-hardy perennials, the tubers being planted out in early to mid spring and harvested in the autumn after the top growth has died down.
Succeeds in most soils[
]. Dislikes wet or heavy clay soils[
]. Prefers a slightly acid soil, the tubers are subject to scab on limy soils or those deficient in humus. Yields best on a fertile soil rich in organic matter.
Tubers - raw or cooked[
]. The tubers are rich in starch but are quite small, averaging only about 3cm in diameter[
]. The tubers range in size from a pea to a walnut[
]. There is a bitterness in the tuber, this is concentrated near the skin[
]. They can be stored for several months or can be sliced thinly, dried and ground into a powder for making bread etc[
]. The small potatoes are used principally for making yeast[
]. The Hopi Indians cook them or eat them raw with a saline clay in order to counteract the astringency and also use them in making yeast[
]. The tubers are rather fiddly to harvest, apart from their small size they are also produced at the tips of roots, often at some distance from the parent plant[
Seed - sow early spring in a warm greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into a fairly rich compost as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on fast. Plant them out after the last expected frosts.
Division. Harvest the tubers in autumn after the top-growth has been cut back by frost. Store the tubers in a cool frost-free place overwinter and replant in mid spring.