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Common Name: Olluco
Ullucus tuberosus is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.30 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
S. America - Peru, Bolivia.
Prefers a rich light soil with plenty of leaf mould[
]. Produces reasonable yields in marginal soils[
]. Established plants are moderately drought tolerant[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 to 6.5[
Ulluco is often cultivated for its edible tubers in S. America[
], it has been tried, unsuccessfully, as a potato substitute in Britain[
]. It is about as hardy as the potato plant in Britain, the foliage withstanding light frosts and the tubers tolerating colder conditions[
]. One report says that plants are very frost-resistant[
] but that has not been our experience[
]. The tubers are not formed until late in the season so a mild autumn is required for good yields. The tubers are formed at the roots and also from shoots growing out of the leaf axils and into the soil[
]. Earthing up the stems as tubers form in late summer can improve yields[
]. Average yields are 5 - 9 tonnes per hectare but there is a lot of potential to increase this[
Slugs are very fond of this plant and will soon completely destroy it if given a chance[
Plants do not usually produce fertile seed but researchers in Finland have obtained seed under controlled circumstances[
Tuber - cooked[
]. Starchy and mucilaginous[
]. The tubers can be up to 8cm long[
]. Ulluco is a staple food in South America, being used in most of the ways that potatoes are used, indeed when boiled and fried they taste very much like potatoes[
]. In the Andes a popular dish called 'chuño' is made by alternately freezing and drying the tubers[
]. The tubers contain about 14% carbohydrate, 1 - 2% protein, almost no fat or fibre[
]. They are fairly rich in vitamin C, about 23mg per 100g fresh weight[
]. The tubers store well and will last up to 12 months in cool conditions[
Leaves - raw or cooked[
]. Mucilaginous and not that exciting[
]. They contain about 12% protein dry weight[
Seed - we have no information on this species but, if you can get hold of any seed, apart from letting us have some you could try sowing it in a warm greenhouse in early spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and either grow them on in pots in the greenhouse for their first year, or plant them out into the soil in the greenhouse.
Division of tubers in the late autumn. Harvest them once the top growth has been killed by autumn frosts and store them in a cool but frost-free place over winter. Plant them out in mid spring.
Cuttings in summer. Very easy[
]. The stem only needs one leaf node to enable it to root [