The Sweet Potato, Ipomoea Batatas, is a sweet tasting, starchy root vegetable that is eaten is many countries all over the world. It is long and tapered at the ends with a smooth skin that comes in many colors, ranging from cream colored, pink, yellow, red, orange, white, violet and purple. The flesh inside also has a large variety of colors, from white to yellow, orange, and purple. The Sweet Potato Plant is an Herbaceous Perennial Vine that comes from the Convolvulaceae Family, also known as the Morning Glory Family, that contains many flowering plants and Water Spinach. The Sweet Potato Vine has alternating heart shaped leaves and flowers that are white or purple in color. The part of the plant that we eat is the root that has become swollen for starch storage to survive until the next year to propagate again. Sweet Potatoes can be grown from vine cuttings, slips that are grown from pieces of sprouting sweet potato roots or from the true seed from the flowers.
The Sweet Potato is Native to South American and was discovered by Europeans around the same time as the Common Potato in the 1530’s. But the Sweet Potato had taken a different path than their tuber counterparts. Sweet Potatoes were first taken to the Islands of Polynesia by ancient Polynesian Mariners that traveled the Pacific Ocean. From there they traveled to Hawaii, New Zealand and eventually ended up in Japan and the Philippines. Purple Sweet Potatoes are a staple in Polynesian cuisine.