Cassava

brateaver at aol.com brateaver at aol.com
Sat Nov 9 07:04:22 EST 1996


Cassava does not form a tuber in the soil, as a tuber is stem tissue.
Cassava has a thick storage root, or multiple storage roots. Real root.

It is interesting that so many people do not distinguish roots from
tubers. I had a fairly long correspondence battle with Jeff Cox, a Rodale
Press Organic Gardening magazine editor. In his book, published by Rodale
Press, "How to grow vegetables organically", on pg 263 he refered to the
swollen underground portion of a sweet potato plant as a "tuber".  

I told him that was a root, not a tuber. He argued that he was right, and
I kept insisting it was a root. It took a long series of letters before he
finally, grudgingly admitted I was right.  I suppose he had  at last
consulted some other botanist.

That told me that apparently garden editors can be writers about plants,
without having taken even the most elementary botany course, because plain
Botany 1, shows you the distinct difference between the structure of a
root and a stem (tuber). There is an abrupt change in the arrangement of
the vascular system (nutrient and water conducting tissues), at the soil
level, when these tissues are seen as entering the underground part.

If the underground portion  is a tuber, like Irish potato, or a real root,
like sweet potato or cassava, the difference is striking.
    As I had spent 7 grueling, graduate years over a microscope, studying
anatomy of cassava, I knew what I was talking about, and I  was surprised
that he just could not believe I did.

Well, on second thought, that should not have been so surprising, because
when I was asked to show my original Organic Method Primer, just  a 250 pg
paperback, to the OG editors, Jeff Cox was one who spurned it--because it
was "too much like their own Basic Gardening book".  

That was not only quite an insult, because that book had been done by
Ballantine Books, using newspaper type paper (now yellowed and brittle),
and had numerous errors.
   My Primer, on the other hand, is now a collector's item, and has led to
the current O.M. Primer UPDATE, the most comprehensive book in the world
on the subject.

Incidentally, an Irish potato tuber is indeed a stem, and the "eyes" you
gouge out when you peel it, are really the "branches" in embryo state.
That's why you are told you can cut a tuber into sections with at least
one eye, for planting. People seem to be surprised at this, I have noted.

B. Rateaver



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