Manioc (Manihot utilissima)

Manioc tuber cross sectionedManioc, also called Cassava, Yuca, Mandioca, and Kamoting Kaoy, is a perennial woody shrubby plant, 1 to 3 meters (3 to 9 feet) tall, with jointed stems and deep green, fingerlike leaves. It has long, fleshy, tapered rootstocks encased in a detachable rind which is rough and brown on the outside.  The flesh of the root can be chalk-white or yellowish.

Manioc treesWhere to Find: Manioc is widespread in all tropical climates, particularly in moist areas. Although cultivated extensively, it may be found in abandoned gardens and growing wild in many areas.

Edible Parts: The rootstocks are full of starch and high in food value. Two kinds of manioc are known: bitter and sweet. Both are edible. The bitter type contains poisonous hydrocyanic acid.

Manioc rootsTo prepare manioc, first grind the fresh manioc root into a pulp, then cook it for at least 1 hour to remove the bitter poison from the roots. Then flatten the pulp into cakes and bake as bread. Manioc cakes or flour will keep almost indefinitely if protected against insects and dampness. Wrap manioc in banana leaves for protection.

The leaves can be finely cut and boiled.

Manioc is primarily a carbohydrate source and although a poor source of protein, the quality of root protein is very good in terms of amino acids.

Note: For safety, always cook the roots of either type.  Improper preparation of Manioc can leave enough cyanide to cause partial paralysis.

Manioc roots

A Manioc root

Manioc leaves

Color drawing of Manioc components

Color drawng of Manioc plant components

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