Tropaeolum tuberosum (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Tropaeolum tuberosum Ruiz & Pavon

Family: Tropaeolaceae


Tropaeolum mucronatum Meyen, Trophaeum tuberosum (Ruiz & Pavon) Kuntze.

Vernacular names

  • Tuberous nasturtium, anyu (En). Capucine tubéreuse (Fr). Añu, isaña, mashua (Sp, South America).


South America, in the high Andean region from Venezuela to Argentina, wild and cultivated. Occasionally, it is grown elsewhere (e.g. in New Zealand).


An ancient food crop from the high Andes. The tubers are eaten boiled and resemble turnips. The flowers are consumed as a salad. Medicinally the tubers are used to treat kidney, liver and skin diseases and they also possess sedative and anaphrodisiac properties.


Herbaceous climber, 2-3 m long, glabrous. Rhizomes thickening to tubers, conical to ellipsoid, 5-15 cm long, 3-6 cm in diameter, furrowed or roughened by numerous nodes and scaly leaves. Leaves alternate, simple; petiole long, twining on surrounding vegetation; blade peltate, ovate in outline, 5-20 cm long, 3-5(-7)-lobed. Flowers axillary, solitary, 5-merous; pedicel 10-19 cm long; sepals red, fused at base into a long spur; petals yellow-orange to red or scarlet. Fruit a 3-seeded schizocarp, each mericarp rugose, remaining indehiscent.

T. tuberosum occurs in high mountain areas, at 2700-4200 m altitude, mostly known from cultivation, but wild forms exist in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Numerous local cultivars (over 100) are known, varying greatly in tuber colour from dirty-white or yellow to red or purple. Propagation is from tubers, usually planted in rows 70-100 cm apart and 40-70 cm between plants. Tubers reach maturity in about 7 months under short daylength. Tubers can be stored well up to 6 months without special requirements. Yields can reach 20-30 t/ha. The tubers contain about 18% starch, 2% sugar and 4% protein. T. tuberosum might be an interesting crop for the cooler parts of the tropical highlands of South-East Asia.

Sometimes, T. tricolor Sweet is considered as the wild ancestor of the domesticated T. tuberosum .

Selected sources

11, 20, 28, 31, 33, 40, 43, 44, 45.


L.E. Groen, J.S. Siemonsma & P.C.M. Jansen