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Variegated Tapioca

Manihot esculenta 'Variegata'

Tropical foliage plant grown as an annual in all but southern-most Texas. The variegated form is prized for its vivid chartreuse/yellow patterned leaves. Native of South America.

Full sun; partial sun

Height 3-4 feet tall, up to 5 feet wide

Variegated tapioca is a heat lover, and in fact does not grow vigorously until the night temperatures are consistently above about 60 F. This plant requires a well drained soil or container potting mix, but it tolerates a wide range of pH. Keep the growing medium moist, and mulch if planted in the soil. Supplemental fertilization is usually required since this plant displays best when it grows rapidly. Plants are most colorful when grown in full sun.

Other news:
Tapioca is one of the common names of Manihot esculenta 'Variegata' as is cassada, cassava, manioc, yuca, mandioca, shushu, muk shue, cassave, maniok, tapioka, imanoka, maniba, kasaba, katela boodin. The reason we chose the name tapioca is because it is the name of a favorite dessert of mine - tapioca pudding. Tapioca is sort of like Poke Salad made from Poke weed in the Southeastern U.S.-- if the cook doesn't know what he is doing, the meal will kill you! Cooking destroys the prussic acid. In South America, the green leafed Tapioca is grown for its enlarged starch-filled tuberous roots. There is a bitter, poisonous- and a sweet, - nonpoisonous variety of tapioca; however the skin stays poisonous and the sweet variety must be peeled. There are hydrocyanic glucosides (HCN) in all parts of the plant; these glucosides are removed by peeling and boiling in water. The peeled roots of the sweet variety is what the original tapioca pudding was made. I remember enjoying a version of this when I was a baby in Tennessee. I wonder if they were trying to poison me?!? The root of the bitter variety is very poisonous when raw but cooking destroys the hydrocyanic acid -- the cooking water must be discarded just as when cooking Poke Salad. The young leaves are used as vegetable and contain a high amount of vitamin A and C but older leaves are not often used. The bitter ones are grated, diluted in water and pressed in a cylindrical basket-work "press" to extract the juice. The paste of tapioca can be baked into pancake-like bread while the extracted juice is fermented into a strong liquor called kasiri. The juice can also be concentrated and sweetened until it becomes a dark viscous syrup called kasripo (casareep). This syrup has antiseptic properties and is used for flavoring. All of this is to warn folks that variegated tapioca is a clone of a tropical food plant, however, the milky sap of the foliage contains cyanide compounds and SHOULD NOT BE EATEN. Instead of eating this beautiful ornamental plant, go to the closest fast food place to satisfy your hunger. Also, don't worry about your pets eating enough to hurt themselves because all parts of the plants contain distasteful cyanide compounds and have a rough texture which is not very palatable. Deer will eat tapioca but it does not spoil the venison.

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