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Manihot palmata, Manihot utilissima.

Botanical name:

Manihot palmata Muell. Euphorbiaceae. Sweet Cassava.

Brazil. This is the sweet cassava of eastern equatorial America, where it has been cultivated from early times. The roots of this variety are sweet and may be eaten raw but it is less cultivated than the bitter variety. It is cultivated in Queensland, according to Simmonds, for the production of arrowroot.

Manihot utilissima Pohl. Bitter Cassava. Manioc. Tapioca.

Brazil. The manioc, or bitter cassava, of eastern equatorial South America was cultivated by the Indians of Brazil, Guiana and the warm parts of Mexico before the arrival of Europeans and is now grown in many tropical countries. The root is bitter and a most virulent poison when raw but, when grated to a pulp and the poisonous juice expelled by pressure, it becomes edible after being cooked. The coarse meal forms cassava. The expressed juice, allowed to settle, deposits a large quantity of starch which is known as Brazilian arrowroot, or tapioca. The boiled juice furnishes cassareep, a condimental sauce, and from the cakes an intoxicating beverage called piwarrie is brewed by the Brazilians. The plant is extremely productive. In Brazil, some 46 different kinds are found. Manioc was naturalized in the Antilles as early as the sixteenth century, says Unger, although its journey around the world by way of the Isle of Bourbon and the East Indies took place at a comparatively late period. It reached the west coast of Africa earlier, and the erroneous opinion has been entertained that it was transplanted from Africa to America. In Africa, at Angola, Livingstone says the Portuguese subsist chiefly on manioc. It is prepared in many ways. The root is roasted or boiled as it comes from the ground; the sweet variety is eaten raw; the root may be fermented in water and then roasted or dried after fermentation; baked, or rasped into meal and cooked as farina; or made into confectionery with butter and sugar; and the green leaves are boiled as a spinach. Grant says it is the staple food of the Zanzibar people, where some kinds can be eaten raw, boiled, fried, roasted or in flour. In India, it is eaten as a staple food. In Burma, the root is boiled and eaten. In the Philippines, manioc is cultivated in many varieties. In 1847, a few dozen plants were introduced to this country and distributed from New York City, and in 1870 some were growing in conservatories in Washington. The first mention of cassava is by Peter Martyr who says "iucca is a roote, whereof the best and most delicate bread is made, both in the firme land of these regions and also in Ilandes." In 1497, Americus Vespucius, speaking of the Indians of South America, says, " their most common food is a certain root which they grind into a kind of flour of no unpalatable taste and this root is by some of them called jucha, by others chambi, and by others igname."


Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World, 1919, was edited by U. P. Hedrick.



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