- Decorative Sweet Potato
- Is a potato a vegetable?
- What is potato: vegetable, fruit or vegetable root?
- Potato Plant Flowering: My Potato Blossoms Turned Into Tomatoes
- Do Potato Plants Bloom?
- Tomato Looking Things on Potato Plants
- Growing Potatoes from Potato Fruit
- Potato FRUIT?!
- The Truth About Potatoes: Yes, Potatoes Are A Vegetable!
- Historical Importance
- Fad Diets
- Consistent Consumption
- The Great Debate
Decorative Sweet Potato
The decorative sweet potato has broken free from the vegetable garden with colored leaf forms that are perfect for vining out of containers or stretching as ground covers across the front of a flower bed.
Description of decorative sweet potato: Sweet potatoes grow into ground-hugging vines that can reach 5 feet long. The lobed leaves are at once graceful and dynamic, especially when you plant purple and golden-leaved forms.
How to grow decorative sweet potato: Plant rooted cuttings in sun or light shade as soon as warm, frost-free, summer weather arrives. Provide rich, moist but well-drained soil — in a large pot or garden bed. Keep the soil moist and fertilize lightly. Plant sweet potatoes about 1 foot apart in garden beds or blend them with other plants in mixed containers.
Propagating decorative sweet potato: By softwood cuttings or with small tubers.
Uses for decorative sweet potato: The dark purple foliage of ‘Blackie’ looks good with purple, pink, and blue flowers. Chartreuse forms are ideal for warm-colored annual flowers.
Decorative sweet potato related varieties: ‘Blackie’ has purple leaves so dark that they appear black.
Scientific name for decorative sweet potato: Ipomoea batatas
Want more gardening information? Try:
- Annual Flowers: Learn more about annuals and their glorious, must-have summer colors.
- Annuals: Find out how annuals can enhance your garden.
- Vegetable Gardens: Discover how to grow delicious produce right in your own garden.
- Gardening: Read our helpful articles and get tips and ideas for your garden.
Pick up a potato and you notice eyes with little lashes on it. In fact, the lashes look like tiny roots. Have you ever wondered why the potato has roots on it?
The potato is actually a stem. A stem in disguise, that grows under the ground!
Many plants are masters at adapting themselves to their surroundings. They can change their structure to suit their needs.
Farmer holding harvested dirty potatoes in his hands.
Just as we keep large vessels handy in the scorching summer to store water, plants deal with the problem in a smarter way. Their body parts have changed over a period of time so as to adjust to their surroundings. Thus, the potato plant has changed the shape and size of its stem to store food and water. And this storage is done under the ground where it is relatively cooler.
A typical plant’s body is made of three basic parts – root, stem and leaf. The root is generally hidden as it is under the ground. The stem is the tall, woody part, which gives support to the plant. The leaves are the green, flat and thin structures that manufacture food. However, all plants do not follow this pattern of division. In some, these parts of the plant’s body look very different from this description.
This kind of adaptation can be seen everywhere in the plant and animal kingdom. Take the onion, for example. It is actually a leaf, which has been modified to store food and water.
Similarly, the spines of a berry plant are actually its leaves. They have changed into this shape to protect it from plant-eating animals.
Cactus: king of adaptation
The cactus is an expert at adapting itself to its surroundings. It grows in dry and arid regions where there is very little rainfall. So it has converted its leaves into spines to protect it from animals. Its stem fulfills the two vital functions of storing water as well as manufacturing food.
The plant world is full of strange and wonderful adaptations. The next time you see potatoes in the vegetable market, you will know there is more to it than meets the eye. Literally!
Is a potato a vegetable?
Is a potato a vegetable? In many countries, potatoes are the beloved vegetable, from which they prepare a lot of delicious dishes. It is widespread throughout the world, but many do not know how the fruit of the potato is properly called, and from this comes a lot of confusion. Someone thinks that fruits are used in food, someone is sure that these are roots.
What is potato: vegetable, fruit or vegetable root?
Potato is a food item used in everyday life. We cook it almost every single day in different ways for various dishes. And sometimes, a question flashes into our mind about what exactly a potato is.
Is a potato a vegetable or fruit?
To begin with, it is necessary to define what is a fruit and what is a vegetable, because, as it turned out, neither the color of plants, nor their external form, nor the size of a type of food determines what it is.
Fruits are edible fruits, the primary natural function of which is to preserve the seeds with which the plants propagate. Based on this definition, cucumbers, eggplants, legumes, corn, and even nuts are nothing more than fruits. The fruit is an edible part of the plant, but as it ripens, it separates from it, so that the seeds can get into the soil and eventually germinate.
READ ALSO: Sweet potato and diabetes: what’s the effect
However, from a biological point of view, fruit – this is what is formed on the plant as a result of flowering. That is, the fruit is formed on the site of the flower flown off. As for vegetables, they are also an edible part of the plant but may consist of leaves, stems, roots, bulbs, and inflorescences.
From the culinary point of view, vegetables are a culinary term for the edible part of some plants, for example, fruit or tuber, as well as any solid vegetable food, with the exception of fruits, cereals, mushrooms, nuts, and edible algae. The culinary term “vegetable” can be applied to edible fruits.
From this, we may conclude, that potato is a vegetable as it has vegetable attributes, rather than fruits.
Is a potato a root vegetable?
Today, there are not many people on the globe who have no idea what a potato is and have not tried meals made with it. Everyone knows what it looks like, from which they prepare french fries or everyone’s favorite mashed potatoes. Usually, these are spherical or elongated tubers of beige, pinkish or brown color, which many people call the fruits of the potato plant.
READ ALSO: Health benefits of sweet potatoes
Anyway, potato plant fruits cannot be considered a root vegetable. As we know, root vegetable is a thickening of the plant’s root, for example, like carrots. And potato fruits are from the thickening of the tuber’s sprout that grows underground.
Is a potato a vegetable or starch?
Fresh potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables all over the world, and typically it is consumed in an amount of at least 100 kilograms of this versatile and very healthy product per year. Potatoes are 100% natural. It does not contain fats and cholesterol, and it is full of vitamins and minerals. But anyway, some scientist consider potato an unhealthy food item. Let’s find out why.
The fact is that there are standard recommendations about the healthy diet regime, which include the so-called rule of “five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.” So, fresh potatoes for some reason are not included in this list. Furthermore, some scientists do not attribute potatoes to vegetable at all.
From the point of view of botany, potatoes are vegetables, but from a nutritional point of view, this is a starchy product. This is due to the fact that people usually use potatoes as a substitute for other starchy foods, such as bread, pasta or rice. According to all botanical attributes, the potato is a vegetable.
Since the starch, contained in it, which differs from the one produced in the industry, its use can cause metabolic disorders and vision problems, as well as obesity and atherosclerosis. In this regard, the potato plays a different role in the diet compared to other vegetables. And that is why it is not included in the list of five recommended fruits and vegetables for every day.
As for the initial question about is a potato a vegetable or starch, we may assume that it is definitely a vegetable, but one that contains not that healthy starch, in comparison with different types of flour.
READ ALSO: 4 simple steps to prepare ultimate potato salad recipe
Potato Plant Flowering: My Potato Blossoms Turned Into Tomatoes
Tomatoes and potatoes are in the same family: the Nightshades or Solanaceae. While potatoes produce their edible product under the ground in the form of tubers, tomatoes bear an edible fruit on the leafy part of the plant. Occasionally, however, gardeners will notice tomato looking things on potato plants. The reasons why potato plants flower are environmental and do not affect the edible nature of the tubers. If you find your potato plant flowering, you might even be able to grow a true potato plant, which doesn’t carry the same characteristics as the parent plant.
Do Potato Plants Bloom?
Potato plants produce flowers during the end of their growing season. These turn into the true fruit of the plant, which resemble small green tomatoes. Potato plant flowering is a normal occurrence, but the flowers usually just dry up and fall off rather than producing fruit.
Why potato plants flower can depend upon the temperatures or excessive amounts of fertilizer. Plants that experience cold nighttime temperatures will set fruit. Also, high amounts of fertilizer can encourage the formation of tomato looking things on potato plants.
Tomato Looking Things on Potato Plants
Can a potato plant grow a tomato? The fruits may look a lot like a tomato but are just the berry of the potato plant. The berries are not edible but they don’t affect the development of the tubers.
Although the fruit doesn’t harm the growth of the tubers, the little fruits can be a dangerous attraction to children. Where potato plants turned into tomatoes, the fruits create additional interest to the leafy greens. That said, nightshade plants have high levels of a toxin called solanine. This is a poisonous substance that can cause illness in people, especially children.
In areas where children are at play, it is best to remove the fruit and the temptation from eager little hands. The fruit’s resemblance to sweet cherry tomatoes can pose a hazard to little ones.
Growing Potatoes from Potato Fruit
If your potato blossoms turned into tomatoes, you can try growing plants from the seeds. Potato fruits have seeds inside just like any berry. You can cut open the berries and remove the seeds to plant. However, the seeded potatoes take longer to produce a plant than those planted from tubers. The resulting plants will not produce the same type of potato as the parent plant either.
The seeds will need to be started indoors because they do take such a long time to produce. The easiest way to separate the seeds is to mash the berry and put the resulting mix into a glass of water. Let it sit for a few days and then strain out the top debris. Seeds will be at the bottom of the glass. You can plant them immediately or dry them and wait until later.
by Johanna Silver, Sunset Test Garden Coordinator
Have you ever smelled a potato flower? I’m serious. Who would have guessed that those hardy tubers produce a flower with such a delicate and pleasant scent? I had my nose buried in the Yukon Golds the other day, happily sniffing the potato blossoms when – what’s this? Potato fruit?
There were clusters of green, grape-sized fruit hanging off some of the plants. This is not something I’ve ever experienced with potato cultivation. I panicked. Does this mean that, similar to when onion or garlic produces a flower, more energy will go to the flower than the part under the ground that I want to bulk up? Should I pick them off? Is it too late? Is my crop ruined?
Greg Lutovsky of Irish Eyes Garden Seeds saved the day and answered my frantic phone call. Simply put, sometimes potatoes flower and fruit, and sometimes they don’t. It is a totally unpredictable occurrence in the field, and it matters not. The amount and size of tubers in unaffected. Moreover, being part of the nightshade family, those seed pods are actually poisonous.
Just as I was starting to lose all interest in them whatsoever, Greg revealed their magic. If you’ve ever planted potatoes you know that we grow from tuber rather than seed. This is because each of those 240 seeds inside that pod can grow into entirely different varieties due to hundreds of years of cross breeding and pollination. Tubers are the only predictable way to grow the same variety from a parent plant. Those seed pods, however, are grown out by universities and research institutions to develop brand new varieties with new flavors, colors, and characteristics. It takes several years of cultivation until that new variety is bred thoroughly and can be grown predictably from tuber.
Over the years I’ve heard a number of allotment folk say that they remove the flowers from their potato plants because it increases the number of potatoes. The theory is that by preventing a potato plant from putting its energies into flowering and fruiting, it goes on to produce larger tubers below ground instead. But is there truth in this crop yield boost idea or is it yet another gardening myth?
To find out the truth I began by running my own trial this year sowing four rows of Charlotte potatoes at my allotment. They were sown side by side, at the same time, with similar manuring, fertilising and watering quantities. In essence I did my very best to ensure that they all experienced the same environmental factors. Having so far harvested four plants that went to flower and four others that were prevented from doing so, I can give you the following results:
- Flowers removed: 37 potatoes weighing 3.83kg
- Flowers left on: 40 potatoes weighing 4.12kg
Potato flowers left on (one fruited) 4.12kg – Heaviest yield
Potato flowers removed 3.83kg – Lightest yield
Toxic potato fruit / berries
So that’s it right? Removing flowers is a load of old baloney? Leave them on for more potatoes? Well I was certainly keen to draw that conclusion (I love to shoot down a myth) but a bit of research tells me that it may not be that straight-forward. I grew Charlotte potatoes (second-earlies). They grow quickly and are harvested early. Whilst I left flowers on two rows I noticed that only one flower produced a little green fruit across fourteen plants (see right). So what? Well if the flowers didn’t produce their tiny green toxic tomato-like fruits we can assume that the plants didn’t expend any energy to do so in any case. ‘Flowers on’ therefore didn’t have any real impact on yield (if it was going to) and a 7.5% weight variance is pretty insignificant. So in the case of first and second earlies at least, it probably doesn’t matter too much whether you remove flowers.
The University of Minnesota – Agricultural Experiment Station
Click for full bulletin
In 1942 the University of Minnesota – Agricultural Experiment Station produced a technical bulletin called ‘Influence of Flowering and Fruiting Upon Vegetative Growth and Tuber Yield in the Potato’ . Its detailed research covers some potato planting experiments carried out at three of their sites. At each location the result was the same, the fruiting potato plants yielded a lower weight of potatoes, vs. flowering potatoes and where flowers were removed completely yield was highest. Indeed they found that the yield on potato plants with fruits on ranged from 12.77% to 27.24% lower.
To determine the influence of both flowering and fruiting, measurements were made on total yield of tubers and number of tubers reaching marketable size (exceeding 85 grams). Yields were significantly reduced on both fruiting and flowering plants of all varieties as compared to non-flowering, non-fruiting plants. Fruit formation and tuber production were found to be concurrent processes. The decrease in yield appeared to be related to the number of flowers and fruits formed. Yield reductions per gram of fruit set and per flower formed tended to be greater on the lesser flowering and less fruitful plants. The study further indicated that flowering and fruiting reduced the total number of tubers set, and the number and weight of tubers reaching marketable size.
Given that their research is a little more wide ranging and detailed than mine, and my previous assertion that my Charlotte plants didn’t even go on to produce fruit, it makes it hard to draw any real conclusion from my own allotment test. Perhaps something using a main crop Maris Piper is needed next year. But maybe it’s not that simple to test anyway…
Environmental factors in potato crops
Other similar tests have of course been conducted since the 1940s. In 1990 the Canadian Journal of Plant Science published a paper called ‘The Effect of Flower Removal on Potato Tuber Yield’ . Their results were mixed with one test mirroring the increased yield of Minnesota, and another mirroring my own. Their conclusion? ‘Response to flower removal appears to be dependent on environmental conditions.’
This means that it is almost impossible to ignore the key drivers that really affect potato yield :
- Day length
- Soil temperature
- Air temperature
- Rainfall / watering
- Solar radiance
- Nitrogen abundance (which increases vegetation and leaf mass, which increases tuber size)
Furthermore other tests looking at seed potato size have found that plants form larger tubers grow more quickly, which in turn makes them energise tubers faster and flower earlier . That I found to be more interesting, I have of course always instinctively sown the larger seed potatoes over the smaller ones where I have a choice but who’s to say whether the seed potatoes in any of these tests were all of an equal size at the outset of any of these tests?! If I repeat next year with main crops I shall ensure that all the seed potatoes are of the same size, and large.
But should you remove potato flowers or not?
If you have the time to remove potato plant flowers on maincrop varieties then do so yes. Since the evidence is that it either boosts yield, or does not boost yield, but it certainly doesn’t reduce yield. So you have nothing to lose by taking them off. In any case, you don’t really want lots of tiny green toxic potato berries growing on your plot lest some visiting child takes a fancy to one and poisons themselves.
- Canadian Journal of Plant Science, 1990
THE EFFECT OF FLOWER REMOVAL ON POTATO TUBER YIELD
- Influence of Flowering and Fruiting Upon Vegetative Growth and Tuber Yield in the Potato
University of Minnesota, Agricultural Experimental Station 1942
- Effects of seed tuber size on growth and yield performance of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) varieties under field conditions
African journal of agricultural research – September 2018
- Effect of Potato Microtuber Size on the Growth and Yield, Performance of Field Grown Plants
Jackson Kawakami1 and Kazuto Iwama 2012
- Water relations and growth of potatoes
P.J. Gregory and L.P. Simmonds 1992
- How to increase potato tuber size
The Truth About Potatoes: Yes, Potatoes Are A Vegetable!
You’ve heard them all: potatoes are not a vegetable, potatoes are just a starchy carb, potatoes are not nutritious at all. APRIL FOOLS! These are all potato myths.
We agree that this is a bad April fools joke, but so is the bad reputation potatoes have had to endure over the past 20 – 30 years. What has occurred in potato history, and what may have lead to this reputation and more importantly, are these claims just a fool’s joke?
Potatoes haven’t always had a bad reputation. In fact, they were an important part in our survival and history as far back as 200 B.C. Originating in the mountains of the Andes of Peru and Bolivia, potatoes were first cultivated and consumed by the Peru’s Inca Indians. Potatoes were more than just a source of food but a measurement of time determined by how long it took for a potato to cook.
Eager for quick and easy ways for weight-conscious consumers, several fad diets were developed by celebrities, fitness gurus and medical doctors claiming to provide the best recipe for weight loss. The Atkins Diet, developed by Dr. Robert Atkins in 1972, was one of the first diets to attack carbohydrates and restrict them all together to lose weight. Another popular diet was The Beverly Hills Diet, a 6-week program that began with eating nothing but fruit for 10 days. Whether these diets were effective or not, consumers were made to believe that carbs of any kind were our weight loss enemy.
Despite the impact of these fad diets, potatoes appear to still be a popular item. In 2015, the average American consumed 110 lbs of potatoes per year in every imaginable form including potato chips, hash browns, fries, mashed, baked, and stuffed. In 2014, the USDA reported that Canadians consumption has leveled off in the last few years with an average of 21 kg person (USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, Canada Potatoes and Potato Products Annual 2015).
So, if our civilization depended on the potato for survival and we continue to consume copious amounts, then why does it continue to have to fight for a good reputation?
The Great Debate
For decades, nutritionists and consumers have debated over whether potatoes are good for you. The Canadian Food Guide 2017 lists potatoes under the vegetable category and recommends 4-5 serving per day. According to Registered Dietitian, Karen Ansel, ‘USDA researchers found potatoes are loaded with Kukoamines, plant chemicals that lower blood pressure’ (Prevention.com Nov 2011). These researchers tested 100 different varieties of potatoes and found that they contained over 60 different vitamins and phytochemicals, and flavonoids, which are credited with improving heart health. Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Emma Andrews from Pineapple Collective also says that, Little potatoes in particular, provide some amazing nutrients to keep your heart in tip-top shape:
Potassium – 19% of your daily intake per serving
One of our body’s main electrolytes, potassium is important to both the cellular and electrical functioning in our body. Secondly, it also plays a role in how our nerves fire, directly impacting muscle contraction and heartbeat. (Feb 22, 2017 Little Potatoes.com Blog post – Emma Andrews, RHN, Pineapple Collective).
Fibre – 12% of your daily intake per serving
Fiber is a carbohydrate that is found in fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps to slow down our digestion, helping to keep us fuller, longer, and in turn, promotes a healthy weight (a major plus for a healthy heart!) (Feb 22, 2017 Little Potatoes.com Blogpost – Emma Andrews, RHN, Pineapple Collective).
Iron – 8% of your daily intake per serving
Iron-deficient anemia is a type of anemia where the blood lack sufficient red blood cells (the cells that carry oxygen from our lungs to our tissues). When we don’t have enough red blood cells, our heart must pump harder and faster to compensate for the lack of oxygen.
The potato has endured its up and downs over history. A hero in one era to a scoundrel in another. From these recent nutritional research findings, it appears that potatoes do provide nutrition important for our day-to-day bodily functions. Potatoes don’t have to hide in the shadows any longer and can be seen for the healthy alternative they are. Potatoes – you are nobody’s fool!
February is National Potato Month! There are many different types of potatoes and countless ways to eat these nutrient-packed vegetables! Potatoes are available year round from your grocer, and can be a part of a healthy meal plan!
One potato, about the size of your fist, has only 110 calories and is loaded with important nutrients like potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and complex carbohydrates. They are naturally fat free, cholesterol free, and contain no sodium.
Potatoes are among the top sources of potassium. They have more potassium per serving than any other vegetable or fruit, including bananas, oranges, or mushrooms. Potassium is essential for normal function of muscles (like your heart), maintaining the body’s electrolyte balance and maintaining the body’s water balance.
One medium potato with the skin provides 2 grams of fiber, which is 8% of the daily recommendation. Dietary fiber has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, and increasing feelings of fullness.
Carbohydrates are a major source of energy for the body. There are two types: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are found in many types of foods, from sweets to produce and milk. Complex carbohydrates also are known as starches. Grains, beans, and some vegetables and fruits provide complex carbohydrates. Potatoes contain both carbohydrate types.
Ways to Cook 5 Typical Types of Potatoes
- White Potatoes: May be baked, boiled or fried.
- Russet Potatoes: Also called old potatoes or baking potatoes, Russet potatoes have a rough brown skin, an oblong shape and many eyes. They have a low amount of moisture and high starch content, which make them perfect for baking.
- Red-Skinned Potatoes: Used for boiling, roasting or frying.
- Yellow Potatoes: These potatoes have a skin color that ranges from a buttery yellow to golden. They are mostly used for boiling and have a moist texture making them good for mashed potatoes. Yellow potatoes are a relatively new variety and are considered all-purpose, meeting all your baking needs.
- Blue-Purple Potatoes: This type ranges in color from bluish-purple to purple-black. Their purple or blue flesh makes an excellent accent to any dish. They are usually small with a dense texture good for baking.
- Butter Potatoes: Gourmet potatoes, such as butter potatoes, are new to many grocery stores (also called Butter Gold or Butter Red Potatoes). They have a rich, creamy flavor and smooth texture making them perfect for mashed potatoes or baked potatoes that need fewer toppings.
New to many grocery stores are gourmet potatoes, like Butter Potatoes (can be found as Butter Gold or Butter Red Potatoes). They have a rich, creamy flavor and smooth texture making them perfect for mashed potatoes or baked potatoes that need fewer toppings.
Potato Prep Ideas
Many people use potatoes as a side dish: mashed, scalloped, fried, salad or baked. Try a potato bar for dinner using a baked potato as your main course loaded with a variety of toppings such as ham or chili, broccoli and cheese, herbs, chives, taco meat and salsa, beans, jalapeños, onions, mushrooms or low-fat sour cream. It is an easy way to make half your plate vegetables for a healthy meal.
How to Store Potatoes
Store potatoes in a cool, humid (but not wet), dark place with good ventilation. Don’t wash potatoes before storing; it speeds up the development of decay.
Jennifer Egeland, MS, RD, LD
Dietitian/Natural Food Buyer
Hen House Markets
Fruit & Vegetable Recipes Video Center: Selection, Storage, and Preparation of Fruits & Vegetables.