Today, we are going to be treating the botanical name, definition, characteristics, varieties and botanical names of the varieties of cassava. Read through and gain atleast one more thing today! So, let’s get started! What is Cassava?
What is Cassava
Cassava is a starchy tuberous root of a tropical tree, used as food in tropical countries.
Botanical Name of Cassava
The botanical name of cassava is Manihot esculenta.
Characteristics of a cassava
- A perennial plant with conspicuous, almost palmate (fan-shaped) leaves
- Cassava plants can reach 4 m in height and are usually harvested 9-12 months after planting.
- It is an Angiosperms of the Tracheophyta
- It is an Eudicot.
- The cassava plant is a woody plant with erect stems and spirally arranged simple lobed leaves with petioles up to 30 cm in length.
- The edible roots of the plant are usually cylindrical and tapered and are white, brown or reddish in color.
- It is a dicotyledonous perennial shrub grown primarily for its storage roots which are eaten as a vegetable
Taxonomic Tree of Cassava
Species: Manihot esculenta
Varieties of Cassava and their botanical names
Cassava comes in two forms: sweet and bitter. Both bitter and sweet cassava types include antinutritional elements and toxins, similar to other roots and tubers, with the bitter forms possessing far more. Cassava must be carefully cooked before eating, as incorrect preparation can result in acute cyanide toxicity, goiters, and potentially ataxia, partial paralysis, or death due to residual cyanide. All forms belong to the two species “Manihot esculenta Crantz” and “Manihot utilissima Pohl”.
Example: Manihot aipi Phol
Cassava is classified as “sweet” in one of two primary kinds, not because it contains more sugars than other varieties, but because it is less dangerous. Cassava tubers contain substantial amounts of cyanide chemicals, which must be processed out before they can be consumed safely. The sweet cassava variety contains less of these chemicals and requires less processing. Sweet varieties provide better yields as well.
Example: Manihot utilissima Phol
Bitter cassava is quite similar to sweet cassava in terms of cultivation and appearance, but it produces far more cyanide chemicals. Bitter cassava cultivars can have as much as 490 parts per million, whereas sweet cassava types might have as few as 40 parts per million. A concentration of cyanogens more than 50 parts per million is deemed dangerous. Some farmers purposely switch to bitter cassava as a deterrent to crop theft in unsettled areas.
Botanical description of cassava
Cassava botanical name is Manihot esculenta.
Cassava is a woody perennial that can reach a height of 5 meters. The leaves are large, spiral, and lobe. At the growth stage, many tubers are generated, each containing 35 percent starch and weighing up to 40 kg. The plant produces a non-fleshy fruit capsule as well as male and female flowers in clusters.
Cassava can be grown from seed or stem cuttings. Seed propagation is time-consuming, and certain seeds may need to be scarified before they can germinate. Stem cuttings, on the other hand, germinate quickly and are the most common technique of multiplication or establishment.
Within the first few weeks after emergence or sprouting, germination, shoot expansion, and root spread occur. 5–7 days after planting, adventitious roots are created first from nodes at the base of more than one axillary bud (nodal roots), followed by the creation of rootlets from a freshly developed callus at the cutting’s base (basal roots).
5–8 days after planting, the buds begin to sprout and develop, and the first leaves appear 10–13 days later. Sprouting occurs more quickly when the soil temperature is around 28–30°C, but it stops when the temperature is higher than 37°C or lower than 17°C.
In 4–5 months after planting, the maximum leaf area is attained. Flowering begins in the first six weeks and continues throughout the crop’s growth period. Tuber initiation can begin as early as the eighth week after planting, depending on the variety and environmental factors. The majority of the fibrous roots will develop into tubers, but no fibrous roots will grow into tubers after 6–9 months.
Fibrous roots (which can range from 3 to 20 roots depending on cultivars and growth conditions) first penetrate the soil as thin fibrous roots, then thicken and begin to swell from the proximal end, where the fibrous root is linked to the stem. The feeder roots grow vertically into the soil to a depth of one meter, which explains why it can withstand drought and low soil fertility.
Mature roots with a starch content of 20–30% extend 60 cm into the earth and are found around the plant’s base. Under ideal conditions, fresh root yields are around 90 t/ha, however average world yields from mostly subsistence agricultural systems are around 10 t/ha.
Because the cassava tuber is physiologically dormant, it cannot be used for crop propagation. According to studies, shoot development takes precedence during the first 3–5 months of plant development, while root bulking occurs later in the growing season. This could be due to the plants mobilizing photosynthates to the shoots early in the growing cycle and then supplying extra photosynthates to the roots later in the cycle. However, important eco-physiological factors like soil and water conditions, temperature regimes, and photoperiodism may play a role. Beyond crop establishment, cassava does not have a water stress sensitive development stage, and the crop can withstand prolonged drought and unpredictable precipitation.
The ability of cassava to tolerate elevated temperature, drought and increased concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, places it as a crop that can adapt to climate change impacts.
Uses of Cassava and its derivatives
Cassava is extremely versatile, and its derivatives and starch can be used in a wide range of items, including meals, sweets, sweeteners, glues, plywood, textiles, paper, biodegradable products, monosodium glutamate, and pharmaceuticals. Cassava chips and pellets are used in the manufacturing of animal feed and alcohol. Some of these industrial uses of the crop are supported by medium to large private farms in major producing countries like Nigeria and Mozambique.
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