Tuesday, July 1, 2008

No.28: Mashua

Hardy little roots, mashua seem almost invincible!

1. Mashua is probably the Andean region's fourth most important root crop—after potato, oca, and ulluco. The tubers—about the size of small potatoes—have shapes ranging from conical to carrotlike.

2. Mashua grows vigorously in nearly any type of garden soil, making this plant very easy to grow. The plant is also extremely pest-resistant and is often used as a companion plant for potatoes and other crops to aid in repelling insects.

3. Eaten raw, some have a peppery taste—reminiscent of hot radishes. But when boiled, they lose their sharpness and become mild—even sweet.

4.In trials in Ayacucho, Peru, and Turrialba, Costa Rica, the nutritional value of mashua was shown to equal or surpass that of cereals.

5. Popularization of mashua may be limited by its strong flavor, and its reputation as an anti-aphrodisiac. It been recorded by the Spanish chronicler Cobo that mashua was fed to their armies by the Inca Emperors, "that they should forget their wives". Indeed, studies of male rats fed on mashua tubers have shown a 45% drop in testosterone levels!

Reference: Wikipedia, Jicas.com, Tuberosas Andinas, CIP, Planting Flower Bulbs,
The National Academies Press