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Manihot esculenta


Manihot esculenta Crantz

Family Name: Euphorbiaceae
Synonyms: Jatropha manihot, Manihot aipi, Manihot manihot, Janipha manihot, Manihot utilissima
Common Name: Tapioca, Ubi Kayu, Bitter Cassava, Manihot, Manioc, Mandioca, Gari, 木薯


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 4 m


Native Distribution South America
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Spontaneous (Naturalised))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Semi-woody perennial shrub with large tuberous roots, able to grow up to about 2 m tall.
Roots Large tuberous roots
Foliage Large dark green leaves measuring about 30 cm long, palmately divided into 5 - 9 lobes, alternate arrangement, petioles are red and measuring up to 60 cm long. Stipules present, can be entire or split. 
Stems Light brown to yellowish grey stems are round and brittle. Inner bark is cream-green. 
Flowers Inconspicuous flowers in a panicle inflorescence.
Fruits Fruit is a globose capsule, smooth, has 6 longitudinal wings and contains 3 seeds.
Cultivation This species is easy-to-grow and tolerant of most soil types including acidic and alkaline soils. Although it is drought tolerant, optimal growth occurs in moist, but well-drained sandy loam soils. It is resistant to most pests, because all parts of the plant body contain toxic hydrocyanoic glycosides.
Etymology Genus Manihot is from the Tupi-Guarani name "manioca" which means cassava. Species esculenta means edible by humans.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves, Edible Roots)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : The storage roots are one of the most important food crops grown in the tropics. They are a rich source of carbohydrates (25 - 30% starch), but low in protein. The outer purple layer must be completely peeled away, because they contain toxic hydrocyanoic glycosides. The roots of bitter cultivars need to be boiled at least twice, changing the water in between. The water used to boil the roots should not be consumed. The roots of sweet cultivars contain less hydrocyanoic glycoside, but it is still present in the skin. Juice extracted from boiled roots is fermented into an alcoholic beverage known as Kasiri. Young leaves are edible after boiling and high in vitamins A and C.)
Medicinal ( Native Americans use juice extracted from boiled roots as a treatment for burns. In Indochina, the starchy roots are used to dress ulcerous sores. In Indonesia, together with other plants, they are used to treat pains in the body. In Philippines, the bark is considered antirheumatic.)

Landscaping Features

Landscaping This species is grown for its ornamental foliage. The large, palmately compound leaves mounted on long petioles give the plant a graceful, elegant look. This species is attractive when planted in small groups.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Dry Soils / Drought
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast to Moderate
Propagation Method Stem Cutting (Hardwood)


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s)
Foliar Venation Palmate
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Root Type Underground

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Purple
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Stellate / Star-shaped


References Extracted from Missouri Botanical Garden website (Accessed 17 Oct 2022)

Image Repository



Master ID 916
Species ID 2210
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 17 October 2022.