Synonyms for Cassava: Manioc, manioca, mandioca, yuca
Scientific Name: Manihot esculenta Crantz
Family: Euphorbiaceae (spurge family)
Most of us only know cassava as an extremely hard, large, spindle-shaped root which exudes a white, milky sap when cut. This root is encased in a brownish, slightly wrinkled skin and in its raw state is poisonous. It is often found in Asian and African food stores and can weigh as much as five kilograms.
The plant is a perennial shrub which forms these hard tubers in the earth as storage organs. In tropical regions it can grow to a height of up to three metres. The large leaves are divided and look like many-fingered green hands. Male and female flowers grow on the same shrub. They form clusters of approximately 200 male and 20 female florets which blossom for about five days. The female flowers open before the male flowers. The white to green, unremarkable flowers develop round seed capsules which snap open as soon as they are ripe and scatter the seeds. The plants are propagated by planting stem cuttings in the soil.