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Tree Description: Cassava is a shrubby perennial that grows to a height of 6–8 feet. It has smooth erect stems. The large compound, dark green, reddish veined leaves are palmately divided into about seven leaflets. The stems contain a soft white pith and have nodes from which new plants are obtained.
Scientific Name: Manihot esculenta
Common Names: manioc, mandioca, or yuca
Relatives: potato, yam
Distribution: Cassava is grown in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America. In Africa and much of Latin America cassava is used mainly for direct human consumption, after boiling or processing.
History: Cassava is a domesticated species of tuber, a root crop originally domesticated perhaps as long ago as 8,000–10,000 years ago, in southern Brazil and eastern Bolivia along the southwestern border of the Amazon basin.
Importance: The roots, which are the most valuable portions of the plant, grow in clusters of 4 to 8 at the stem base. Roots are from 1 to 4 inches in diameter and from 8 to 15 inches long,
although roots up to 3 feet long are found. The pure white interior is firmer than potatoes and has a very high starch content. The roots are covered with a thin reddish brown fibrous bark that is removed by scraping and peeling.You have to BOIL the roots before they are eaten.