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Plant Description: Sweetpotatoes are generally known for their colorful and nutritious roots; in addition, the young leaves and shoots are a great source of leafy greens throughout the summer, usually boiled or stir-fried. There are two types of sweetpotatoes: moist-flesh or desert type is best for baking, and dry-flesh or starch type (white to pale or purple skin) is best for boiling or frying. Further, there are three types of growth habit: trailing (vine), bunched (bush), intermediate; bush types conserve garden space. Ornamental sweetpotatoes and sweetpotatoes grown in the vegetable garden are different varieties of I. batatas. The ornamental varieties are grown for their attractive foliage. The roots of ornamental sweetpotatoes can be eaten. However, the ornamental varieties were selected for their attractive foliage, not their culinary qualities. The culinary qualities of the ornamental sweetpotato roots may not measure up to their vegetable counterparts.
Scientific Name: Ipomoea batatas
Common Name: yam, (Spanish) batata, boniato, camote, papa dulce
Relatives: (Not related to potatoes)
Distribution: Sweetpotato (I. batatas L.) is one of the world's most important root crops that is grown in more than 100 countries worldwide. It is an important specialty crop in the U.S.
Since 1939, there has been continuous research on sweetpotato at the USDA.
Importance: Among the reasons that sweet potato is a great crop is that it is relatively easy to grow, relatively free of pests and diseases, has relatively high productivity, and is always good food, principally starch, some protein and vitamin C, and, in orange varieties, rich in vitamin A. In addition, the young leaves, rich in protein and most vitamins, are also good food. Furthermore, the sweet potato is an excellent animal food.