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`Uala  - Sweet potato flower

English name:

Sweet potato
Family name:
Scientific name:
Ipomoea batatas
Introduced by:
Polynesian introduction
South America and Africa
See Also...



Three lines of origin from S. America: Batata, Camote and Kumara lines. The Batata and Camote lines were established in Central America before the arrival of the Europeans, Columbus carried batata then spread eastward and reached China in 1525 and Kyushu in 1620. The camote line took a direct route to Asia, being carried across the Pacific from Western Mexico to the Philippines, by Magellan in the 16th century. This line could have transferred to Ryukyus then to Japan about the same time as the batata line. The Kumara line was introduced to Polynesia, was thought to have arrived first in Marquesas and then passed from the Society Islands, Easter Island and Hawaii.


`Uala is best adapted in warm, moist, tropical environment. It can grow in drier areas, from low altitudes to 5,000 feet or more. The species is grown here in Hawaii in moist soils and planted in mounds with mulch. Their enlarged primary roots called "tuber" is harvested by "milking" (in Hawaii). The species can be propagated by cuttings or slips on ridges, individual mounds or flat grounds. It needs plenty of sun and light showers to maximize its growth. It prefers soil with good aeration and sandy loam, with slightly acid pH.


Stem: Sweet potato is a perennial herbaceous twiner. It's a vigorous plant with purple to green stem.
The dark green leaves vary in shape and size from heart-shaped to five-lobed or five-angled.
It produces a large tuberous roots that ranges in color from white to yellow to orange to purple.
Flowers: The flowers are funnel-shaped, pinkish lavender in color, and complete, perfect and regular in shape. It produces a fleshy fruit.


The sweet potato was the main food of the Maoris of New Zealand and was believed to be the personification of Rongo, the son of the god Tane. There were many rites of planting and digging, ending with a feast.

It is said to have been cultivated in Hawaii since A.D. 1000. In the island of Niihau, where it was abundant, it was eaten more than taro. Kane Pua`a (man and pig) is the Hawaiian god of the sweet potato. The tubers are rich in carbohydrates (3%), 1.5 to 2.0 % protein and about 70% water. The tubers are consumed after cooking in the imu or boiled in the pot. The leaves and tender shoots are eaten as vegetables. The juice from the enlarged roots can be extracted and fermented and made into alcoholic drink (`uala`awa`awa). Other plant parts can be used as animal feed and old leaves and stems used as padding for mats. It is known as 2nd staple for the Hawaiians.


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Last Modified: 14-Dec-2010 13:23 HST